Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Joints
The joints connecting our bones are very vulnerable to wear and tear. We give them a real run for their money during adult life, so as we get older, they can start to give us a bit of trouble. When they start to become swollen or damaged, we exhibit symptoms of arthritis, which can become seriously debilitating in older adults. The best cure is always prevention, so here are a few tips for taking great care of your joints during your adult life, so they (hopefully) keep you walking and running for years to come.
Avoid the neck crick
That awkward phone call pose, holding the head between your ear and your shoulder while you change nappies, send emails, or carry groceries, could be doing your neck a serious disservice. Go hands-free for phone calls, avoid texting too much, and avoid over-extending the cartilage in your delicate neck bones.
Say bye to bad shoes
It can seem odd that our shoes can cause joint problems, but bad shoes, particularly high heels worn regularly, can create serious issues further down the line. As women are far more prone to osteoarthritis anyway, due to hormonal changes, speeding up that process with ill-advised footwear is counter-productive.
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods
Strangely enough, both sitting and standing are bad for us in high quantities. The optimum is half and half, with good posture and proper lumbar support for both. If your job involves a day sitting at a desk, or driving around different places, be sure to take regular standing breaks every thirty minutes or so. Similarly, if you’re expected to stand for long periods, be sure to take regular sitting breaks too.
Be careful carrying heavy loads
One of the best ways we can mess up our backs in just an instant is by lifting a heavy load in a way which puts too much strain on your joints or spine. All it takes is one ill-conceived twist, and you could set yourself up for problems for the rest of your life. Only lift objects you’re comfortable lifting – ask for help for anything more. And be sure to lift from your knees, pushing all the weight through your legs, rather than from your hips and lower back. Be sure to hold objects right in close to your body to take stress off upper body joints too.
Lose a few extra pounds
Carrying even a little bit of extra weight can put significant strain on bones and joints, particularly knees, which can ultimately lead to osteoarthritis, which may even require joint replacement further down the line. Just losing a few pounds can significantly reduce that strain, and it’ll make you feel a whole lot better too. Monitor portion sizes to limit calorie intake, and make the most of your energy and health by getting outside and working out.
Boost your calcium intake
Calcium is vital for building strong, healthy bones. It’s the most important mineral for keeping osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, at bay. Don’t worry; you don’t just have to drink pint after pint of milk. Try to include cheese, yogurt, broccoli, kale, and even calcium supplements into your diet, and you’re significantly helping the health of your bones in later life.
And boost vitamin C too
Vitamin C, but not too much of it, is another vital part of avoiding osteoarthritis, so make sure you’re getting enough. Supplements are all well and good, but treat yourself to a glass of orange juice every now and then too – the antioxidants will really help your overall health too.
Get your omega-3
If you’re not eating fish regularly or taking omega-3 supplements, you’re doing your joints a disservice. Salmon and mackerel, as well as some other cold-water fish, are packed full of the stuff, and it can seriously help to reduce inflammation and joint pain, as well as to help to keep your brain healthy and the neurons firing properly. If you don’t fancy eating fish every day, go for a supplement.
Fresh air is good for the soul and good for the mind, but the exercise is great for the body too. You don’t have to go for a run around the park – a walk for half an hour a day can make a significant improvement to your overall health, and it’s a great opportunity to pick up some bonus vitamin D while you’re at it. Even a few hours a week pottering around doing yard work is far better than staying inside in front of the television.
People who do yoga, tai chi, and other stretching activities have seen a marked improvement in the health of their bones and joints. It increases body strength, particularly core, meaning back problems and other joint complaints become far less common. It also allows you to check in with yourself, relax, and cope with stress more effectively.
When you do workout, just be careful. If you overdo it, you could be putting undue stress on bones and joints, which could even cause irreparable damage further down the line. Be sure to strap up any problem joints as soon as any issues arise. Pushing a joint through an injury can significantly worsen the problem, especially in high impact sports such as kickboxing and aerobics. Swimming and cycling are far more gentle on the joints. If you’re worried, hire a personal trainer for some advice. They’ll be able to recommend exercises which isolate certain problem joints, and they might even be able to help you strengthen the surrounding muscles to offer the joint more support.
Say bye to bad habits
Avoiding osteoporosis and osteoarthritis as we get older is very important. They are both based to some extent on your family history, so it might be impossible to avoid them altogether, but it is possible to lessen their impact, and keep them at bay longer. Smoking is absolutely one of the worst things you can do, not only for your overall health, but for your joints and bones too. Kick the habit, and you decrease your likelihood of a fracture, and developing osteoporosis in the future.
Strengthening our bones and joints is only part of avoiding problems as we age. We also need to avoid putting undue pressure on them with bad posture and poor lifting habits. While we can’t avoid problems altogether, we can make them far less likely to occur.