Joint pain doesn’t have to be an inevitable curse of growing older. There are many preventative steps you can take right now to safeguard your joints from pain and deterioration.
It is entirely possible to keep your joints strong and healthy, and ward off conditions such as arthritis, bursitis and osteoarthritis. Prompt intervention won’t only help your joints, but will benefit many other aspects of your health. Here are steps you can take right now to increase the strength and resilience of your joints.
1. Watch Your Weight
If you’re overweight, you’re putting more stress on your joints than they are meant to bear. Each pound of excess weight creates four pounds of additional pressure on your knees. Even if you’re only 10 pounds overweight, it can add 40 pounds of force to your knees. Extra weight also taxes your hips, spine and ankles.
2. Practice Good Posture
It’s easy to slip into a slouch when you’re sitting at your computer or even when you’re standing. However, if you slump regularly, it puts tremendous, uneven force on your joints and spine. Bad posture is an ingrained habit, so you’ll need to become conscious of how you sit and stand, and do exercises that strengthen your back.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
No matter where you go, bring water with you and drink regularly. Water lubricates your joints and can stave off gout problems. Also, the connective tissue in your joints, called cartilage, is about 70% water. If it’s allowed to dehydrate, it may deteriorate, causing joint pain from friction. Try to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
4. Go Barefoot
When you’re at home, kick off your shoes. Going barefoot reduces the strain on your knees by 11.9%, which can thwart osteoarthritis. When you do wear shoes, make sure they’re not high heels, which can wreak all sorts of havoc on your spine, feet, legs and hip joints.
Instead, wear flat, cushiony shoes with heels that are lower than one inch. Also, replace workout shoes every three months so that they provide optimal comfort and support.
5. Avoid Kneeling
Repetitively kneeling or kneeling on hard surfaces can lead to bursitis, which is joint inflammation. Safeguard your joints by limiting your kneeling and using a cushion or kneepads when you do.
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking can jeopardize your health in a myriad of ways, including harming your joints. The habit can cause intensified pain and substantial cartilage loss. This is because cigarette toxins break down cartilage, while carbon monoxide can impede cartilage repair.
Cigarette smoke can also interfere with your circulatory system, blocking the flow of nutrients to the joints.
When you’re sedentary, your joints may become stiff, dehydrated and painful. Mobility and range of motion could become limited by lack of exercise. You can safeguard your joints by engaging in any type of consistent physical activity.
Try low-impact exercises or lift weights (starting at low repetitions) to build up supportive muscles around your joints. This way, your joints don’t get overworked.
Even something as simple as getting up and stretching every 15 minutes when you’re at your desk, watching TV or other types of inactivity can vastly safeguard your joints.
8. Safeguard Your Joints by Taking Vitamin D and Calcium
Calcium is a powerhouse mineral responsible for joint and bone health. (Your bones and teeth contain more than 99% of your body’s total calcium.) However, your body can only effectively absorb it when it is combined with vitamin D.
Vitamin D is nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because your body manufactures it when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Without vitamin D, your bones would become soft and weak. However, with the health risks associated with sunlight, vitamin D can be sourced from supplements and diet. Foods rich in vitamin D include:
- Tuna and salmon
- Egg yolks
Foods containing calcium include:
- Dairy products
Don’t wait until you’re in pain to wish you’d done something to safeguard your joints. There are numerous ways you can proactively take care of your joints to keep them in optimal health. Follow the above suggestions so you can stay strong, limber and live the life you love.