• Tips for Healthy Joints

  • Caring for Joints
    Here are some great tips to help guard joints against injury and diseases such as arthritis.

    Watch Body Weight
    Keeping body weight within a healthy range is the best thing to do for joints. Weight-bearing joints, such as knees, hips, and back, have to support some, if not all, of the body's weight. That's why so many overweight people have problems with these areas of the body.

    The higher the number on the bathroom scale, the more wear and tear put on the joints. Losing weight reduces pressure on the knees, hips, and back and helps prevent joint injury. Research has shown that with every pound gained, a person puts four times more stress on the knees. Women who lose about 11 pounds reduce their risk of developing arthritis of the knees.

    Man exercising his joints at St. Mary-Corwin Pueblo Exercise for Healthy Joints
    Exercise can aid in losing extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Some research suggests that aerobic exercises, which are activities that get the heart rate up, can reduce joint swelling. Choose exercises that won't give joints a pounding. Instead of jogging or step aerobics, try low-impact exercises such as swimming, dancing, and bicycling.

    Gentle yoga stretching can provide relief from arthritic joint pain by keeping the body moving, preventing it from becoming stiff. Since yoga strengthens the joints, the practice will significantly ease the symptoms of arthritis. It makes joints function normally and over time reduces the risk of stiffness. Not only will yoga improve the movement of the joints but can also lead to a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle. Always check with a physician before beginning any exercise program.

    Don't sit for long periods of time! Couch potatoes, computer addicts, and anyone else who remains glued to a chair all day long have a high risk for joint pain. Less movement means more stiffness in the joints. Change positions frequently. Take frequent breaks at work and stretch or go for a short walk.

    Build Muscles to Support Joints
    Strong muscles support joints. If the body does not have enough muscle strength, the joints take a pounding, especially the knees, which must support the entire body weight. Weight training can help build muscle and keep existing muscle and surrounding ligaments strong. That way, joints don't have to do all the work. Make sure to talk to a doctor before starting weight training. Work with a physical therapist who can teach the right exercises.

    Support Joints With a Strong Core
    Make sure an exercise routine includes activities that strengthen the abdominal (core) muscles. Stronger abdominal and back muscles help keep balance and prevent falls that can damage the joints.

    Know The Limits
    Certain exercises and activities might just be too tough for a joint to handle. Avoid exercises that cause joint pain. Muscle pain after working out is normal but any soreness that lasts longer than 48 hours means the exercise was too much. Such pain could mean the joint is overstressed, and working through it may lead to injury or damage.

    Don't be afraid to ask if you need help with a specific task or chore. A second pair of hands is a joint-saver!

    Pay Attention to Posture
    Slouching is not good for the joints. Standing and sitting up straight protects the joints from the neck to the knees. Good posture also helps guard hip joints and back muscles.

    Posture is also important when lifting and carrying. For example, women tend to carry large, heavy purses carried on one shoulder. Try using a backpack - type purse, putting it over both shoulders instead of slinging it over one. Being lopsided puts more stress on the joints. When lifting, use the biggest muscles in the body by bending at the knees instead of bending the back.

    Protecting The Body Protects The Joints
    Make sure to always wear a helmet, knee pads, and elbow and wrist pads when taking part in high-risk activities, including work-related ones such as repetitive kneeling or squatting. Never go without safety gear; hit the wrong bump in the road and a lifetime of joint pain may await. Serious injuries or several minor injuries can damage cartilage. Preventing injuries can help ward off early onset arthritis. Elbow and wrist braces, or guards, also help reduce stress on joints during activities.

    Add Ice for Healthy Joints
    Ice is a great drug-free pain reliever. It helps relieve joint swelling and numbs pain. For a sore joint, apply ice wrapped in a towel or a cold pack to the painful area for no more than 20 minutes. Don't have ice or a cold pack? Try wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables (peas work best!) in a light towel. Never apply ice directly to the skin.

    Eating Right Nourishes Joints
    A healthy, balanced diet helps build strong bones. Strong bones can keep you on your feet, and prevent falls that may lead to joint damage. Make sure to get plenty of calcium every day. Calcium can be found in milk and foods such as yogurt, broccoli, kale, and figs.

    Recent research indicates that a diet that contains the proper amount of vitamin D is important for good bone and joint health. Oranges may also give joints a healthy boost. Some studies suggest that vitamin C and other antioxidants can help reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Salmon is particularly beneficial for joints. Not only is it a good source of calcium, it also contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s promote healthy joints and reduce joint pain and swelling in people with arthritis. Mackerel is another source of omega-3s.

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