How you can keep your joints healthy for a better life
And why it’s important to prevent rather than cure…
It’s safe to say that most of us, including you, don’t really think much about our joints until they start to hurt, which is normal given the kind of things we have to deal with on a daily basis. But to be honest, your joints deserve attention much before they cause you continuous pain and discomfort. Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to joint pain according to many physicians.
Paying attention to and taking care of your joints early on can help you tackle a number of issues that may otherwise come to plague you as your age advances, issues that could possibly have a profound life changing impact not just on the way you move but on your overall general health.
Here are some tips for safeguarding your joints from damage, and saving the cartilage that supports them, from the effects of advancing age and wear down.
1. If you are a smoker, please quit
Smoking and the use of tobacco are bad, period! They are high risk factors for almost everything ranging from cardiovascular problems to causing cancer. Continuous smoking can damage and hamper your joints as well over prolonged time. This happens because smoking increases inflammation throughout the entire body, which can most likely make it much harder for your body to recover and heal from injuries and regular wear and tear. For example, you may begin to notice some aches that last longer than they did, or newer joints begin to ache with more frequency and tenacity. While it is known that, it’s not easy to give up smoking once and for all, but you must consider this: Within under eight hours of quitting, the levels of carbon monoxide in your blood will return to normal and the oxygen levels in your blood will increase steadily as well.
If you’ve been thinking about kicking the habit, plan it out and get assistance and support from everyone around to increase your chances of successfully quitting.
2. Replace aerated soda and energy drinks with water
Our body’s cartilage is made up of almost 80% water. The cartilage is a flexible, connecting tissue that cushions your joints during movement. If you don’t keep yourself well-hydrated, your body will begin to pull out water from your cartilage and other areas, and this can cause great damage to your joints. You can replace those sodas and energy drinks with water, which will help provide better hydration to your joints and even your heart.
In case you’re not sure about how much water you should consume in day? No problem, just pay attention to your body’s cues: first make sure you have water available at all times and when you feel thirsty, drink. And make sure to increase hydration during the hot weather months and while exercising.
3. Try and maintain a healthy weight to avoid overtaxing your joints
You may think you are invincible but your joints are actually meant to support and sustain a certain amount of force and weight respectively. If you are overweight or even underweight, you’re most putting much more stress on your joints than you can imagine.
If you are indeed overweight, every additional 4.5kg of weight you carry adds 9kg to 18kg of force to each knee, and in case you’re underweight, your body lacks the muscle bulk required to keep your joints strong and healthy.
So, if your weight isn’t where you want it to be, enlist yourself to the help of a physician or seek a dietician’s assistance in finding a healthy dietary eating plan that works best for you and your joints.
Many dieticians consider a Mediterranean diet an ideal approach to a healthy lifestyle. The diet includes a hearty healthy mix of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and healthy fats, which can help reduce inflammation in your body and keep your heart healthy too.
Regular moderate exercise also improves your ability of maintaining a healthy weight. Some of the most effective exercises for reducing the weight on your joints include
- Walking in the shallow end of a pool (hydrotherapy).
- Walking on a treadmill with no incline.
If you’ve never worked out or weren’t into exercise, it’s best to work with a physical therapist initially, who can ensure your body is healthy enough to tolerate exercise in the first place.
4. Always stretch and warm up and cool down while exercising
We see a lot of people going straight from work to their gym, and without stretching their muscles or warming up their joints; they jump on the treadmill and begin to run. This can cause trouble and put your joints at much greater risk of strain and overload.
Ideally, warm-up and cool-down should last for five minutes. Stretch the same muscles you’ll exercise, but at a slower pace. Warming up is even more important as you age; as older joints are often less resilient and need more loosening.
HOD & Senior Consultant - Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement >