Maintaining the health of our musculoskeletal system is an important component to sustaining a healthy, happy life. The musculoskeletal system is made up of bones (the skeleton), muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissues. Together they provide support for our organs, protect us from injury and give us the structure to move.
When the musculoskeletal system is out of balance, issues may arise, especially over the long term. If these issues aren’t addressed, they pose a threat to our quality of life by limiting movement, causing pain, and creating emotional stress associated with the change in our health.¹
Root Causes of Musculoskeletal Pain
There are a myriad of root conditions that can cause issues in the musculoskeletal system. They range from hundreds of injury types to chronic, diagnosable conditions. When these root conditions cause postural imbalances, weak and/or tight muscles, and/or weak and/or connective tissues, pain often arises as a result.²
Most common issues are:
Osteoarthritis - age-related and/or overuse joint deterioration, most commonly diagnosed in adults over 50 years old. Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint in the body and is caused by a breakdown of cartilage.
Osteoporosis - causes bones to become weaker and increases the risk of fractures. Most adults begin to see a decrease in bone mass after the age of 30. However, factors such as a family history of osteoporosis, low calcium intake, extremely low caloric intake over time, excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to developing osteoporosis.
Injuries - sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and chronic overuse issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain from sitting all day.
Fibromyalgia - a disorder with musculoskeletal pain felt throughout the body. Fibromyalgia pain is often described as a dull, achy pain due to stiffness and tenderness felt in the muscles and connective tissues. Fibromyalgia is often caused by a life-altering or physically and/or psychologically traumatic event, or it can develop over time.4
How to Support Your Musculoskeletal System
Investing in your musculoskeletal health is fairly straightforward. A holistic approach to lifestyle habits such as eating a nutrient-dense diet, drinking plenty of water, being physically active, sleeping well, and managing stress sets the foundation to a healthy musculoskeletal system. This approach becomes increasingly important if you are experiencing musculoskeletal imbalance and/or pain.
The following modalities are designed to support your musculoskeletal health. Evidence shows that they can be helpful in supporting a healthy inflammatory response, promoting healthy circulation, and restoring functional movement and flexibility.³
Nutrition - Focus on a whole foods diet rich in lean meats, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, healthy fats (ie. olive oil), and plenty of color rich fruits and vegetables. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. Vegans can run the risk of not getting enough calcium, as many sources are animal-based. Natural sources of plant-based calcium include beans, lentils, legumes, almonds, brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, amaranth, teff, seaweed, blackstrap molasses, and fortified food and drinks, such as fortified oat milk and orange juice.
Supplementation - Fish oil, krill oil, curcumin / turmeric, ginger, glucosamine, collagen, chondroitin, MSM, Boswellia serrata extract and devil’s claw may help support healthy joint function and support a healthy inflammatory response.*
Mindfulness and Meditation - Chronic pain sufferers often experience emotional and psychological distress as a result of their physical pain. Studies show that emotional and psychological distress, in addition to stress, plays a part in the continuation of chronic pain. It becomes a vicious cycle. A practice of mindfulness and/or meditation can help mitigate this.
Acupuncture - Acupuncture may help promote blood flow, help support a healthy inflammatory response and support normal muscle relaxation.
Physical Therapy - Naturopathic manipulation of muscle, bone or the spine, hydrotherapy techniques, gentle electrical impulses, ultrasound, diathermy, and strengthening exercises.
Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi - Incorporate a practice that is gentle on the body while strengthening muscles and increasing mobility.5
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1.Arendt-Nielsen, L., Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, C., & Graven-Nielsen, T. (2011). Basic Aspects of Musculoskeletal Pain: From Acute to Chronic Pain. The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, 19(4), 186–193.
2. McSwan, J., Gudin, J., Song, X. J., Grinberg Plapler, P., Betteridge, N. J., Kechemir, H., Igracki-Turudic, I., & Pickering, G. (2021). Self-Healing: A Concept for Musculoskeletal Body Pain Management - Scientific Evidence and Mode of Action. Journal of pain research, 14, 2943–2958. https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S321037
3.Myers, S., & Vigar, V.(2019). The State of the Evidence for Whole-System, Multi-Modality Naturopathic Medicine: A Systematic Scoping Review DOI: 10.1089/acm.2018.0340
4.Jahan, F., Nanji, K., Qidwai, W., & Qasim, R. (2012). Fibromyalgia syndrome: an overview of pathophysiology, diagnosis and management. Oman medical journal, 27(3), 192–195. https://doi.org/10.5001/omj.2012.44
5. Lewis, R., Gómez Álvarez, C. B., Rayman, M., Lanham-New, S., Woolf, A., & Mobasheri, A. (2019). Strategies for Optimising Musculoskeletal Health in the 21ST Century. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 20(1), 164. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-2510-7