Here are 15 steps to keep your joints healthy and how to keep them moving smoothly.
Protecting Your Joints
Injury can damage joints. Wear protective gear like elbow and knee pads when taking part in high-risk activities like skating. If your joints are already aching, consider wearing braces when playing a round of golf or tennis.
Keep Joints Healthy by Moving Them
The more you move, the less stiffness you’ll have. Whether you’re working, watching TV or reading, change positions often or get up and move around.
Keep Joints Healthy by NOT Stretching Before Exercise
Experts now say that stretching before exercise actually causes muscles to tighten, increasing the risk of muscle pulls. Overstretched joints are more susceptible to injury, especially for people with arthritis. Instead, try sport-specific exercise -- like slowly kicking before swimming. This warms up not only the muscles, but also loosens up the joints, ligaments, and tendons around them.
To protect your joints, your best choices are low-impact options like bicycling and swimming. High-impact, pounding, and jarring exercise can increase your risk of joint injuries and may slowly cause cartilage damage. Light weight-lifting exercises are another option.
Strengthen Muscles around Joints
Stronger muscles around joints mean less stress on those joints. For example, research shows that having weak thigh muscles increases your risk of knee osteoarthritis. Even small increases in muscle strength can reduce that risk.
Keep Joints Healthy by Using Full Range of Motion
Move joints through their full range of motion to reduce stiffness and keep them flexible. Range of motion refers to the normal extent joints can be moved in certain directions.
Don’t Overstretch Your Joints
It's normal to have some aching muscles after exercising. But if your pain lasts longer than 48 hours, you may have overstressed your joints. Don't exercise so hard next time. Working through the pain may lead to injury or damage.
Good Posture Protects Joints
Stand and sit up straight. Good posture protects your joints from your neck down to your knees. One easy way to improve posture is by walking. The faster you walk, the harder your muscles work to keep you upright. Swimming can also improve posture.
Lose Weight for Healthy Joints
Lose just a few pounds and you'll take some strain off your hips, knees, neck, and back. Extra pounds add to the load placed on these joints, increasing the risk of cartilage breakdown. For every pound you lose takes four pounds of pressure off your knees. Also people with excess body fat may have higher levels of substances that cause inflammation.
Eat Fish for Healthy Joints
If you have joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, eat more fish. Fatty coldwater fish like mackerel and salmon are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help keep your joints healthy, as well as reduce inflammation. If you don’t like fish, try fish oil capsules instead.
Calcium and Vitamin D Can Prevent Damage to Joints
Calcium and vitamin D help keep bones strong. Strong bones can keep you on your feet, and prevent falls that can damage joints. Dairy products and green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale are good sources of calcium. If you don't get enough calcium in your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.
Glucosamine for Knee OA
Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound found in healthy joint cartilage. Some studies have shown glucosamine -- combined with chondroitin -- may provide some relief for moderate to severe pain caused by knee OA.
Apply Ice for Joint Pain
Ice is a natural -- and free -- pain reliever. It numbs pain and helps relieve swelling. If you have a sore joint, apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes at a time. Don't have ice or a cold pack? Try a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel.
Possible Supplements for Joint Pain
Health food stores are filled with supplements promising to relieve joint pain. Although some people have found relief with methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for OA pain, its safety and effectiveness haven't been determined. Other people have tried Sam-E, ginger, or flaxseed. Many supplements used to treat OA pain and inflammations are not proven to be effective.
Don’t Ignore Joint Injuries
Physical trauma can contribute to cartilage breakdown and OA. If you injure a joint, see your doctor right away for treatment. Then take steps to avoid more damage. You may need to avoid activities that overstress the joint or use a brace to stabilize it.
Bottom Line on Healthy Joints
Keeping your joints healthy with enough care and attention, and small changes to your lifestyle can impact greatly on the health of your joints and overall wellbeing. Remember to keep active, eat well and get plenty of rest and your body will thank you later on in life!
About Lynn Glenn
Lynn Glenn is a 62 year old natural athlete from Southern California who started weight lifting at the ripe young age of 48. After catching the "bodybuilding bug" Lynn Glenn became interested in living a healthy lifestyle and began writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, diet, nutrition, diet and weight loss, men's fitness, cardio training, and anti aging.