Keeping Your Joints Moving

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We are constantly being told to keep moving. Exercise daily – lift weights or run for at least 30 minutes a day – but what we might not realize is the hidden strain we are putting on our joints. Joint damage can come from increasing age, arthritis, injury or carrying too much weight. Too much damage in your joints may require you to have joint replacement surgery. Every year more than 770,000 Americans get their hip or knee replaced. Hips and knees aren't the only joints that sometimes need replacement. Shoulders, fingers elbows and ankles can wear down as well.

Why are so many Americans getting their joints replaced? A joint is the connection between two bones. Joints allow you to bend your elbows and knees. Surrounding your joints are cartilage, synovium and a lubricant which cushion the joints so the bones don't rub together. Too much wear and tear on your cartilage can do serious damage and lead to arthritis.

We aren't saying that exercise is a bad thing by any means and it is important to continuously move around, but even more important than that is being aware of your body. Don't overwork your joints by running when your knees hurt or bench pressing more weight than you can handle. Take the time to listen to your body and take appropriate steps to keeping your joints healthy.

Lose Weight

Keeping your weight in a healthy range for your height and age will help keep your joints from feeling too much pressure. Every pound gained adds four times the amount of pressure to your joints.

  • Watch Your Portions. Eat the appropriate portion size to help you lose weight and stay healthy.
  • Make Healthy Eating Choices. Some vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale are high in calcium and can help build stronger bones.
  • Limit Caffeine Intake. Studies have shown that caffeine can weaken your bones. Try staying away from the extra cup of coffee each morning.

Get Up & Get Moving

Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the stress on your joints.

  • Try Aerobic Exercises. Activities that get your heart rate up can reduce joint swelling.
  • Opt for Low-Impact Exercise. Running and high weight bearing exercises can add a lot of stress to your joints. Try low-impact exercises like swimming, bicycling or yoga.
  • Warm Up. Stretching and warming up will help get your muscles and joints ready for exercise – decreasing the risk for joint injury. Also, stretching will help your range-of-motion, keeping your muscles flexible and strong.
  • Strengthen Muscles. Weight bearing exercises are a great way to boost metabolism, create stronger bones and strengthen muscles. Stronger muscles help stabilize joints.
  • Tighten Your Core. Strong abdominal muscles give overall core strength and balance. A stronger core can protect joints from damage.
  • Take A Brief Walk. Don't sit still. You should get up, move around, walk the dog, take a hike or move around a bit each hour to keep your body moving and help maintain a healthy weight.

Relax

After strenuous exercise, it is important to soothe your aching muscles.

  • Take A Warm Bath. A warm bath can soothe your muscles and joints after an intense workout.
  • Use A Heat Pack. Heat from warm showers, heated pools and heat packs can relieve pain and stiffness.
  • Try Cool Therapies. Cold packs, a bag of ice or frozen peas can help reduce pain and swelling in aching joints.

Quit Smoking

People who smoke have a greater risk of fracture than nonsmokers. Smoking can reduce bone mass which can lead to osteoporosis.
Taking these simple steps towards keeping your joints healthy and strong can decrease your risk for arthritis and osteoporosis and keep your body strong and active longer.

Source: Arthritis Today