Joint pain is problematic for many people as they age. With age comes loss of bone mass and muscle which can be very troubling. Caring for your joints as you age becomes a very important topic for many. There are things you can work on right now to improve the health of your joints. Here are ways to strengthen and care for your joints as you age.
What Comprises Your Joints?
First off, what are your joints? In the simplest terms, your joints are the connection between your bones. Your joints allow your elbows and knees to bend. They allow your hips to wiggle, your head to turn, you back to bend and your fingers to wave hello or goodbye. So that your joints do not rub against one another, there is a layer of cartilage and synovial fluid that cushion your joints. Keeping your cartilage healthy will help keep your joints working smoothly.
What Causes My Joints to Breakdown?
There are many reasons why your joints begin to break down. A common reason is the condition called osteoarthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis and it affects your joints by breaking down the cartilage that separates your joints. For some people the effects of this condition are minimal, while others struggle with daily activities.
What Can I Do to Strengthen My Joints?
If you are worried about joint damage or are already suffering from it in any capacity, there are things you can do right now to still strengthen and help your joints.
1. Watch Your Weight
Your top priority for keeping your joints healthy is to maintain a healthy weight. Your weight-bearing joints like your knees, hip and back take brunt force of your weight. If you are overweight, these joints are likely your biggest source of pain.
By maintaining a healthy weight, you are putting less pressure on these precious joints and it helps reduce additional injury. Consider this, research has shown that for every pound you gain, that adds 4lbs of pressure to your knees. Ouch!
2. Exercise Regularly
Whether you have extra pounds to lose or not, exercising regularly is going to be vital to keeping all of your joints healthy. Specifically, exercise that raises your heart rate (i.e. cardiovascular exercise) can help reduce swelling in your joints.
For many people, exercising regularly can be a double edge sword. On one side it is great for your health but it can be painful to even begin an exercise routine. You may need to consider a type of exercise that puts less stress on your joints to start like swimming or bicycling. You can increase your intensity and duration with each new exercise session you attempt.
If exercising is overall burdensome, you may need to get with a personal trainer. They should have the ability to create a program just for you and the concerns you have with your joints. Some exercises may need slight modifications to make it more safe for you and your body.
Also, remember to get a solid core workout in as well. This includes focusing on your chest, back and abdomen. Having strong abs means that you have more protection in case of a fall or other serious injury.
3. Build Muscle
Another great way to maintain healthy joints is to build muscle. Having strong muscles supports your joints. Keep in mind that your spine, hips and knees support the majority of your weight and if your muscles are weak, so will your joints. Weight training has the ability to not only build muscles but keep ligaments strong too. This will help keep pressure and pain off of your joints.
4. Eat for Healthy Joints
Eating healthy is also important for maintaining and strengthening your joints. A diet rich in calcium is going to provide optimal support for your bones. Some great options to incorporate into your diet include yogurt, milk, broccoli, kale, and fortified foods like soy or almond milk. Speak with your doctor as well to see if you need extra support by means of a supplement. Finding great sources of vitamin D and vitamin C are also imperative to a healthy diet targeting your joints.
Your joints are very important to how you function in your everyday life. Keeping your joints strong and healthy is essential. By creating a healthy lifestyle of exercising, eating right, building muscles and watching your weight, you can anticipate some strong and healthy joints.
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