Your joints are just as important to your health as your muscles and bones.
As an orthopaedic surgeon, I can never stress this point enough. Your joints are integral to your overall health and the functions of your body.
When it comes to fitness, most people don’t really think about joints very much. They want a rock hard 6-pack, or biceps the size of dodge balls. They want to drop 15 pounds, or fit into their skinny jeans, just one last time, before menopause comes and steals that dream away forever. But I am here to tell you that if you don’t pay attention to the joints that connect your muscles, looking good in jeans will be the least of your worries.
You may think that movement, or physical activity would damage your joints, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Stiff joints are what typically cause joint pain, since your joints were designed to help you move, using them helps keep them strong.
Ignoring your joints can lead to health issues in the future, such as arthritis, chronic pain, inflammation, and injury. So here are eight ways you can keep your joints healthy, and thus improve your health overall.
Maintain a healthy weight. The best thing you can do for your joints is not overtax them. Your ideal weight will be different from anyone else’s, but obesity can cause joint injuries because of the constant strain. Even if you have to work slowly, find a way to reach a healthy weight, and stay there.
Wear joint protection. Especially if you have arthritis, its important to wear joint protection like knee braces. Pay attention to pain levels, and don’t overdo it if your joints start to hurt.
Do low impact exercises. Swimming, biking, and walking are three low-impact ways you can get plenty of exercise without hurting your joints.
Strength training. The stronger the muscles surrounding your joints, the less work your joints have to do. Strength training can not only help alleviate pressure on joints, but it helps with pain, too.
Stretching exercises. Range of motion is the point of joints, so proper stretching, rolling out your fascia, and doing extension stretches will help keep everything lubed up and running smoothly.
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Take Vitamin D and Calcium. Vitamin D and Calcium will help keep your bones healthy and strong, and thus help your joints. Many people need supplements though, so check with your doctor to see if you are deficient.
Avoid inflammatory foods. Arthritis is all about inflammation, so if you suffer from it, or just want to help avoid it as long as possible, consider eating foods that help fight inflammation.
Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for both your joints, and your bones. It’s honestly pretty bad overall. So obviously quitting smoking is on this list. Your joints, your heart, the ocean, and your lungs will thank you!