Joints are where bones meet. They allow us to turn our heads, bend our knees, wave bye-bye, and do the chicken dance. They come in different shapes and varieties, but are all cushioned by a cartilage and a lubricant called synovial fluid so that the bones do not rub together.
Joints are susceptible to deterioration, even healthy ones. Injury, increasing age, carrying heavy objects, and even sitting the wrong way are some causes joint damage. To take care of your joints and guard them against diseases such as arthritis, here are basic tips to follow.
1. Watch your weight
One of the best things you can do for your joints is to keep your weight within a healthy range. The heavier you become, the more wear and tear you put on your joints. Losing weight reduces pressure on your knees, hips, back, and other weight-bearing joints.
Research shows that exercise, or aerobic activities can reduce joint swelling. However, don’t go for exercises that don’t give your joints too much pressure. Instead, try low-impact activities such as bicycling or swimming. Furthermore, less movement stiffens your joints. Instead of sitting all day in front of the computer, get up and start moving!
3. Observe proper posture
Although our bodies can twist in all kinds of ways, maintaining good posture puts less strain on your joints. While most of us slouch and slump, the best posture entails aligning our ears with our anklebones that creates a straight line - passing through our shoulders, hips and knees. Once you’re used to standing straight, your back and neck muscles will definitely thank you.
Stretching is your friend, especially during exercise. One good warm-up is moving your joints through their natural range of motion. This gets your joints ready to move and remain mobile. Don’t forget to do stretching exercises before and after a strenuous activity or exercise. You can also make stretching a part of your daily routine.
5. Gain muscle
You need strong muscles to take care of your joints. They provide support, stability, and keep your joints from rubbing against one another. When you engage in weight-bearing exercises, your bones rise to the challenge. Muscle toning also improves your balance and helps you lose weight. Before starting any regimen, of course, seek advice of a personal trainer to show you the proper way of performing the exercise.
6. Know your limits
Some exercises might be too much for your joints to handle at first. The best thing to do is to go slow. If you feel joint pain, modify the exercise - with your trainer's or physical therapist’s awareness, of course. However, learn to distinguish “threatening pain” and normal muscle pain.
7. Eat healthy
A healthy diet is one way to keep excess pounds off. Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and nuts can help reduce joint inflammation. Calcium, found in vegetables like broccoli and spinach, helps prevent bone loss. Also, Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Damaged joints cause a lot of pain and higher health insurance costs. What have you been doing lately to protect your joints?