Joint health plays an important role in ensuring overall mobility. The older you get, the tougher it will become to move around as stiffness sets in. While certain conditions are often treated with medication, most joint problems are best avoided through prevention rather than cure. The earlier you adopt healthy habits, the better it will be for your bones, joints and overall health in the future.
Here are some ways you can go about safeguarding your joints and their supporting tissues.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Body weight naturally applies pressure on your joints. The heavier you are, the more pressure you put on your joints and the more prone you are to suffering injuries. It can also increase your risk of later developing conditions like osteoarthritis most commonly the knee.(1) If you are overweight even a small amount of weight loss can help reduce the strain on your joints. There are many ways to achieve a healthy weight, such as,
Consuming a healthy/balanced diet
Practice portion control
Exercise regularly - If you are worried about injuring your joints because of excess weight, opt for low impact exercises like swimming and yoga.
Replacing drinks that are high in sugar such as sodas, energy drinks, and pre-packaged juices with water. These fast absorbing high calorific drinks alongside fast foods are a major cause of weight problems across all age groups. Drinking water will not only replace these calories but help to keep supportive tissues like cartilage hydrated and lubricated.
Regular exercise will help reduce and maintain a healthy weight as mentioned above, however, even when you’re not specifically exercising, you should try and maintain an active lifestyle such as walking or cycling instead of driving where possible and avoiding sitting for long periods. Being active throughout the day can help mobilise the joints and strengthen the tissues and muscles that support them. The more muscle and strength you build, the more you will be able to support your joints. Being more active also helps to encourage the flow of nutrient-rich fluid into joints and cartilage.
The more active you become, the less likely you’ll be to injure yourself through over exertion as your bodies ability to deal with physical stress will increase, this will reduce the risk of possible joint problems in future. When necessary, wear supportive athletic gear to protect your joints when exercising. With consistency, you can build up muscle leading you to no longer rely on the support.
Whenever you exercise or otherwise exert yourself physically, be sure to warm up beforehand and cool down at the end. This can easily be done with a little cardio activity like a brisk walk or a jog. The golden rule for warming up is to do the activity you are about to do but at a lesser intensity and build it up. Warming up before exercise helps protect you from injury by increasing the blood flow to muscles and joints. If not sufficiently warmed up, exercise or activity can lead to overloading or strain on the muscles and joints.
Extra effort should be put into weight bearing or high-impact exercises (Skipping, running, jumping etc) which help keep joints, muscles, and bones strong. Strength training works to help build up muscles that support joints but is also key to the formation of new bone for all ages and demographics including postmenopausal women who are particularly susceptible to loss of bone density. (2)
Strength training exercises are also important as they can help you react to such things as trips or falls. Improving your reactions and strength means you are less likely to fall and become injured.
Calcium and Vitamin D help strengthen bones and can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, nuts, and dairy. Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium and mainly comes from the sun but can also be found in dairy and oily fish. It is recommended to supplement this during the winter months.
Omega -3 - Studies have shown that supplementing with omega-3 can help reduce joint pain and morning stiffness (6)
Curcumin - Supplementation of curcumin had similar efficiency on arthritis as a strong NSAID’s known as diclofenac! (3)
Ginger(4) and Garlic(5) - Supplementation of these have also shown good efficiency in reducing arthritic pain.
Protein - is also good for healthy muscles and bones and helps in the absorption of calcium.
Always seek advice before adding something new to your diet as certain foods may have contraindications to certain medications or medical conditions/pregnancy.
Maintain Good Posture
Whether it is when just sitting or lifting heavy weights, it is important to use the correct posture. Poor posture can cause strain on your joints and the tissues that support them, especially if you keep repeating the same movements. Poor posture can lead to debilitating injuries that can take months to heal. Learn how to position your body correctly when performing tasks so you do not end up causing strains or sprains. If you have to sit for long periods, try to get up and walk around and stretch every 30 minutes or so.
See a Chiropractor of course!
For some people, joint problems may already have set in and begun to affect their quality of life. While some of the recommendations here may prove helpful, it is advisable to consult with a chiropractor to get your body to its optimal function, helping you reduce the risk of injury. Consulting with your chiropractor can help determine the cause of your joint pain and identify remedies that could see you regain joint health and reduce pain.
If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to get in touch!