We have 360 joints in the body, and each joint connects bone to bone. Off your head, you might think of the knees, hips and elbows first. The joint allows the body to move. From your fingers and toes to your neck, back and shoulders; keeping your joints healthy helps you avoid pain and stiffness, allowing you to keep doing the things you love to do.
However, if you are suffering from joint pain or arthritis, physical inactivity and a poor diet can exacerbate your symptoms. Here are some simple tips on how you can keep your joints healthy and pain-free.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight will put extra strain on your weight-bearing joints, such as your knees, ankles, hips, and back. Studies from the Arthritis Foundation have shown that for every pound (0.45 kg) of excess weight you carry, it will result in an additional four pounds (1.81 kg) of extra pressure on your weight-bearing joints. Thus, simply by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, you can limit the amount of stress being put on your joints and reduce your risk of joint damage.
2. Keep moving
You can reduce stiffness in your joints simply by staying active. Avoid staying in one position for long periods of time and move about frequently (e.g. every 30 mins). You can help your joints stay mobile and even shed some weight by doing low-impact exercise — such as walking, swimming, cycling, strength training, and stretching. Do take caution when doing any type of exercise by starting slow and slowly building up the intensity and also, put on proper protective equipment if necessary to protect your joints.
3. Pay attention to your posture
It is very important to always stand and sit up straight to protect your joints from your neck to your knees. Do make sure your shoulders are back and your spine is straight when you are walking. When you are seated for long periods, do take breaks every hour to stretch and reposition. Swimming is a great exercise to help keep your posture aligned. Having a proper posture is vital to prevents extra stress on your joints and reduces the risk of injury to the surrounding muscles.
4. Improve your flexibility
There is a wide variety of exercises that you can do to improve your flexibility, including stretching. Flexibility refers to your joint's ability to perform a full range of motion without feeling pain or stiffness. It also refers to the flexibility of the muscles that support the joints. By having flexible muscles and tendons, it allows your body to perform a greater range of motion during activities/exercises. Thus the more flexible you are, the better your balance will be resulting in less stress on your joints and improving your overall joint health.
5. Strengthen the muscles that support your joints
Stronger muscles can provide better support for your joints. This is especially important for people with weakened bones due to osteoporosis. Even the slightest improvement in strength can help significantly. You can work on maintaining or improving your muscle strength by doing strengthening exercises. Weight training is a good way to strengthen your muscles. Do adjust your workout speed and intensity carefully and don't overdo it. With the proper strength training, you will increase the stability of your joints, while decreasing the pain.
6. Eat a well-rounded diet
Having a healthy diet is another way to improve your joint health and help losing excess weight. Eating lean proteins can help in building strong muscles. Eating foods with calcium and Vitamin D, such as dairy products can help to keep your bones strong. Eating fish such as salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids that can help to reduce joint inflammation. Other foods, such as tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, berries, and nuts may also help to reduce inflammation.
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