Your joints are a crucial element to your overall body performance and enable you to get around, exercise, and even complete your everyday errands. Arthritis, sports injuries, and general wear and tear can put extra stress on our joints and can lead to discomfort and pain. If you can protect yourself from this stress or at least limit it, your life will become more manageable. To help you take back control of your life, we’ve outlined 5 ways to protect your joints.
When not in active motion, our bodies should maintain a certain posture. Ideally we should be standing completely straight as if a string is holding us up from the head. Our body should be aligned, starting with our ears down to our shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. By keeping good posture, less stress is put on your joints while the muscle and skeletal systems work together. Good posture can also prevent your bones from rubbing against each other at the joints, delaying or stopping the onset of arthritis. Slouching is the norm for most us so sitting and standing up straight may feel uncomfortable at first, but once you are used to it your muscles will feel an overall decrease in stress.
2. Low impact exercise
Exercise is a huge part of maintaining healthy joints. In order to prevent injuries or further joint aggravation, we recommend you learn and incorporate low impact exercises into your daily routine. Proper fitness can limit the chance of injuries, inflammation and pain. Be mindful of the surfaces you are working out on and think about choosing a cycling class over running on the treadmill.
3. Gain Muscle
Another way to prevent injuries and joint pain is to gain muscle. This is important for the muscles that surround your joints. Strong muscles provide stability, support, enable range of motion, and encourage bone growth. Thicker bones are able to provide more support. Gaining muscle can also improve balance and help keep you at a healthy weight. All of these factors come into play in preparing your joints to withstand a fall or injury.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Experts say that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your joints. Big joints like your knees, hips, and back support almost all of your body weight. Therefore the heavier you are, the more wear and tear your joints will experience. Losing weight decreases stress on the hips, knees, and back, and also prevents injury. Previous research has shown that losing weight immediately decreases the pressure put on the joints.
5. Be smart
When it comes to your joints you should use your head. Take these and any other easy precautions to protect your joints and make daily activities easier. If a certain activity is really bothering your joints, listen to your body, and take a break. It’s better to rest than to push your joints too far. Plan your day out to make sure not all of your physical activities are taking place back-to-back. If you feel stiffness coming on, make sure you switch positions or start walking instead of sitting. Use your big joints instead of your small joints. Big joints are meant to take on more work. Lift large amounts with your legs instead of your back.
These are just 5 ways in which you can actively protect your joints. Joint pain can be debilitating and is something we should try and prevent as much as we can before it occurs. We can’t predict the hands we’ll be dealt when it comes to joint diseases or injuries, but we can care for our joints as best as possible. Keep your joints, muscles, and ligaments strong and stable and your body will be thanking you for years to come.
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