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As I was walking up the stairs in my home the other day, I heard an unfamiliar creak. I stopped short for just a second, thinking the step had a loose nail in it. I continued up the stairs and heard it again. Wait a minute! That was not a nail pop, that was my ankle! What gives? It was actually creaking with each step I took up the stairs! How could this be? I am the model of perfect health. Even at age 46 (okay…I turn 47 on 9/11, but age is just a number, right? Look at my 105-year-old grandma!), I have rarely have any physical complaints. Maybe I just need to grease up this ankle joint. That should do it! Works for doors and hinges, right?
I did a bit of research on the web and found some information about how we can protect our joints. If I want to be running half-marathons in thirty years, I need to take this information to heart.
Here are the top ten ways you can protect your joints--what are you looking at me for? Mine are fine--nothing a bit of grease or rubbing compound won’t help. Also, I was delighted to discover that problems with our joints – namely osteoarthritis – are no longer considered a consequence of age, as there are several potential contributing factors to joint problems, with age just being one of the factors. Maybe those dozens of miles I run each week are the problem.
1) Maintain your ideal body weight. If you are carrying around too much extra weight, you burden your joints with more stress, most particularly the knees, hips, back and feet. (Notice there is no mention of ankles here. Check!)
2) Move your body. This does not mean walking from the couch to the fridge. You have to get up, get out, and get going. Exercise protects the joints by strengthening the muscles around them. Strong muscles keep the joints from rubbing against each other and wearing down the cartilage.
3) Stand up straight! I cannot tell you how many times my grandmother has told me this one. I think I still have the dent in my back from where she rammed her finger into it to remind me. Good posture protects your joints in the hips, back, knees, and neck. Remember this when toiling away on the computer for hours, too.