Looking to get the most out of your joints? Apply some of these tips to maintain optimal joint health and function!
The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applies to many things, including joint health. Instead of waiting for problems to occur, taking some simple steps can keep your joints at optimal health. The main goal is not to completely overhaul your day-to-day life, but instead to take a few of these tips and apply them where you can. The smaller the lifestyle change, the more likely we are to stay with it over the long term!
Keep it moving!
One of the most important differences between those with healthy joints and those with common joint conditions is the level of daily activity. These can be simple: taking the stairs, parking farther away, exercising a few times a week, or including some calisthenics and stretching into your routine. Regularly standing up when working at a computer, watching TV, or sitting for long periods of time is also helpful. Making small adjustments to stay more active can yield great results over time.
Take Extra Caution
Once an injury has occurred, your joints are much more likely to develop arthritis or other degenerative conditions later. During icy conditions, take extra caution so you don’t fall. If you are an athlete, take adequate time to rest and recover. Above all, if something hurts, don’t push through it. Taking steps now to avoid injuries can pay off big time over the long term.
Consider your weight
A healthy weight is good for our blood pressure, cardiovascular system, and overall health. This includes our joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every one pound reduction in body weight takes four pounds of pressure off the knees. Dropping a few pounds also promotes spine, ankle, and hip health.
Reduce your workout’s impact
Exercise is great for your body and your joints, but not all workouts are created equal. Jogging, jumping, bounding, and heavy lifting are often detrimental to your joint health. Anything involving repeated impact may cause damage over time.
Instead, consider trading in your running shoes for a bike or swimming goggles. Staying active while reducing the force absorbed by your joints has been shown to promote overall joint health. This is especially true for the lower extremity joints (foot, ankle, knee, and hip) and the spine.
Add some flexibility to your life
After you finish your low impact workout, finish with a good stretch. Even a 5-10 minute stretching routine two or three times per week can make a big difference. This is especially important for athletes or others who work out multiple times per week or place high physical demands on their bodies. Having flexibility is important for overall cartilage and bone health, plus it will help you maintain optimal range of motion. The goal is to make incremental progress over time, so try to avoid overstretching. Please note that stretching before your muscles have warmed up may actually result in injury, so make time to stretch after your workout instead of before.
Eat the right stuff
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that fast food is high in saturated fats and trans fats, which have been shown to cause joint inflammation. Athletes are often focused on rebuilding their muscles, without considering the needs of their joints. Trading that burger and fries for fatty fish a few times a week will help ensure your joints have the nutrients they need.
Nutrients like calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D are important for your joint health. Other foods that have been shown to reduce inflammation can also help your joints stay at peak health; including ginger, garlic, berries, and turmeric. Similarly, avoiding things like doughnuts, margarine, and fast food can help reduce joint inflammation.
Having knowledge and applying that knowledge are different things entirely. Now that you know what steps you can take to maintain healthy joints, it’s important to actually make small changes in your lifestyle. This might be as simple as swimming instead of running, or replacing a weekly burger with fatty fish, or adding a few minutes of stretching at the end of your workout. The implementation doesn’t have to be drastic, it should be a change you are confident you can keep. Most of these tips have the most benefits over years, so do your best to turn them into habits.
Experiencing joint pain already?
Joint pain and degeneration can be hard to reverse through lifestyle changes alone. Often the expertise of a board certified, fellowship trained orthopaedic specialist is required to help you overcome the injury or to prevent additional damage. You can schedule an appointment with one of the bone and joint specialists at Beacon Orthopaedics by phone 24/7 at 513.354.3700 or online at your convenience at BeaconOrtho.com