Maintaining your joint health is essential, and while exercising is a crucial component to improving and prolonging optimal joint health, there are several additional factors to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at ways to be proactive to preserve your joint health and make improvements when obstacles like injury or arthritis arise and affect your daily routines.
The more you move and utilize those joints, the less you will battle stiffness and sore joints. This can be as simple as standing and stretching if you work at a desk all day or shift your position if you tend to sit or stand for long periods at a time. Making small efforts throughout your day can prevent sore, stiff joints from setting in.
Step it up a notch by staying mobile as often as possible. Walking around the house as you tackle chores or taking a stroll outdoors during a work break is a great start. And, don’t be afraid to add motion to your routine if you’re experiencing arthritis. While some are under the misconception that an increase in activity can trigger additional pain and discomfort, it’s best to keep your joints moving to alleviate additional arthritis issues. You’ll promote stronger muscles around your joints to help support and maintain their health.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s essential to maintain a healthy weight, as extra weight can place stress and strain on your joints. Additional weight can inflict joint strain on critical areas, including your back, hips, and knees. The slightest weight change can make a world of difference. Losing just one pound is equivalent to taking four pounds of strain off of your knees. Protecting your weight-bearing joints is vital, so protect those joints for optimal joint health.
Your flexibility can significantly impact your joint movement. Stretching regularly can help reduce joint stress while keeping your tendons and ligaments loose. Even ten minutes a day of light stretching can help increase flexibility and support your joint health. A short walk can help keep your body flexible.
How’s your range of motion? If stiffness is currently an ongoing issue, it’s time to work on your range of motion. Range of motion refers to the normal amount any joint can move in any particular direction.
Incorporate Low-Impact Exercises
Low-impact exercises support joint health while keeping you mobile, increasing flexibility, and helping you maintain your weight. Find a low-impact routine that interests you, such as cycling, swimming, strength training, golf, and walking. These low-impact choices are ideal for joint support without adding additional stress to them, which high-impact exercise can sometimes do. Remember to stretch before exercising to protect your joints and muscles.
Strengthen your Core
We all hear the talk about strengthening our core, and it’s not just chatter.
Strengthening your abs and back muscles help support your balance, protecting you from falls and injuries. Core strengthening exercises focus on your abs, back, and hips and should be a part of your regular exercise routine for optimal strengthening. Pilates and yoga offer fantastic benefits to your core strengthening needs.
Stay within your Limits
Listen to what your body is telling you, and don’t overdo it. It’s normal to have muscle soreness after your workout, but if you experience pain for more than forty-eight hours, you may have pushed yourself a bit too far. Decrease your exercise, being mindful that pushing through your pain can potentially lead to injury if you aren’t careful. Know your limits and work within them.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet will help you maintain your weight and provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients your joints need. Lean proteins help you build strong muscles, while foods high in calcium and vitamin D help support healthy bones. Fill your daily diet with options such as fish, dairy products, and fortified foods.
Fish, such as salmon, work wonders for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the inflammation building up in your joints. The decrease in inflammation will help ease joint pain and soreness.
Reducing the inflammation throughout your body is an essential part of keeping your arthritis symptoms under control. You can improve and further protect your overall joint health by adding anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy green veggies, tomatoes, olive oil, berries, and nuts.
Strong, Healthy Bones and Muscles
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong bones and aid in maintaining healthy joints. Adding dairy products to your diet can offer a tremendous source of calcium. But, if you’re sensitive to lactose, you can fill your calcium and vitamin quota in other ways. Add plenty of leafy greens to your menu, like kale, broccoli, and spinach. They provide you with the essential nutrients to support healthy bones, fight inflammation, and even offer plenty of hair and skin benefits in the process. Incorporating weight-bearing exercises, like walking or jogging, also helps you maintain strong bones.
Strong bones provide the support and stability your joints require. When you pair strength training exercises to your vitamin-rich diet, you build up your muscles and protect your joints.
Don’t neglect the muscles that support your joints. Keeping them healthy is essential to maintaining optimal joint health. Focus on improving muscle strength with regular strengthening exercises, such as weight training. Start slow and steady and continue to build up those supporting muscles. You’ll reduce any current pain while helping guard against further inflammation and joint pain or damage.
If you’re currently experiencing muscle or joint pain, avoid quick, repetitive movements. Consult your doctor, physical therapist, or a certified trainer for workout recommendations that fit your needs.
Posture does matter, so whether you’re standing or sitting, make sure you’re doing so with proper posture to protect your joints. It may not seem like a big deal, but your posture affects your joints from your neck to your knees. Add walking to your list of low-Impact exercises to help improve your posture. Pick up the pace to help work those muscles and build strength for protection. If you have access to a pool, swimming is an excellent way to support good posture.
When you ensure proper posture, you help prevent additional stress on your joints, reducing your risk of injury to their surrounding muscles. It’s also essential to ensure you use correct posture during exercise, especially repetitive motions, standing, squatting, and sitting.
Be aware of your posture during heavy lifting. This should go without saying, but it’s certainly worth repeating. Heavy lifting can be dangerous to your joints, so don’t overexert yourself. Make sure to use care and caution when lifting heavy objects or when carrying loads for extended periods. Yes, this even means those heavy purses you fill to the top. Bend your knees when lifting, switch shoulders when using a backpack or purse, and opt to carry them on your lower arms or wrists when possible to distribute weight to your joints when you lift and carry.
Supplements provide you with a quick, easy, and effective way to get the vitamins and nutrients you may be lacking. Through capsules, shakes, and green drinks, supplements can help you in your goal to improve and maintain healthy joints. Supplements offer an array of benefits, including relieving joint pain and a decrease of inflammation. Glucosamine and SAM-e offer Incredible joint pain benefits, while many green drinks work on building your muscles and bones to support joint health. Talk with your doctor if you have questions on which supplements may be best for your health goals and needs.
Tend to your Joint Injuries
If you sustain a joint injury, you must tend to it or seek treatment. Joint injuries can lead to the breakdown of cartilage in your joints, and proper care is necessary.
This is also why stretching and working on your flexibility and range of motion are imperative to your joint health. If you’re beginning a new exercise routine, be safe, and follow joint health recommendations and best practices.
Ice is a natural pain reliever, as it will numb your aches and ease inflammation and swelling. If you experience soreness in your joints, apply an ice pack or wrap a bag of ice in a towel and apply it to the painful area. You can leave it on for up to twenty minutes at a time for maximum relief.
Starting with the Right Exercises
Whether you’re looking for a new hobby or just starting an exercise routine, select low-impact activities that fit your current health status, and support your health goals.
Walking is the easiest way to start if you’re not currently active. Walking provides benefits to your entire body as well as mind. Start slow and build up to a pace that does not take your breath away. Rule of thumb – If you cannot talk while on your brisk walk, take it down a notch. You want to pick up your heart rate without overexerting yourself. A few more great walking tips:
- Invest in good, supportive walking shoes with padded soles and support for your arches
- Refrain from using hand or ankle weights while walking, as they can cause injury
- If your weather or neighborhood isn’t ideal for walking, hop on a treadmill or walk inside a nearby shopping mall.
If you currently have arthritis, it’s essential to work on range of motion exercises to preserve your current range of motion and slowly improve it. Start by extending, bending, and rotating each joint to help relieve stiffness, improve mobility, and build up to additional joint exercises.
Now that you have the knowledge and tools necessary to protect your joints, there’s no excuse. It’s time to start making improvements to ensure your optimal joint health and safety today.