How to Protect Your Joints

Over time, even the healthiest joints will start to deteriorate. It’s a fact of aging. But by following these tips, you can reduce existing joint pain and protect your joints well into your golden years.

Maintain a healthy diet. Eating healthy is important for weight management, which is a key concept in preserving the health of your body’s joints. The less weight they have to carry, the less stress is put on them on a daily basis. A healthy diet includes calcium, found in dairy products and in vegetables like spinach, which can prevent bone loss. Omega-3 fatty acids from foods like fish and nuts can help to reduce joint inflammation. And Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so make sure that you’re getting it from your diet or from a daily does of sunlight.

Stretch! Gentle daily stretching keeps you limber and reminds your joints that they can move in ways that you might not use on a daily basis. If you don’t stretch, your joints may “forget” their level of mobility and stiffen up. Some people find yoga to be a great way to stretch out their joints.

Build your muscles. Having strong muscles helps to support and stabilize your joints. It can also help to improve your balance and increase your metabolism. Get a trainer to work with you to learn how to do weight-bearing exercises safely.

Create an ergonomic work environment. It may not seem like it, but even something as low-key as sitting down can take a toll on your joint health. If your work space forces you to hunch over or keeps you from being able to shift positions comfortably, something needs to change. Try to sit with your elbows and forearms supported, your thighs parallel to the ground, and your chair adjusted high enough that you can get in and out of it easily and comfortably.

Work on your posture. While hunching is many people’s normal stance, it actually places extra stress on your muscles and causes bones to rub together unnecessarily. Work on sitting and standing straighter until it becomes a habit.

Know your limits. When picking up new activities, don’t push yourself too hard. Be forgiving with your personal learning curve, and know that you may not be able to do things the same way or with the same intensity that you used to do them years ago. Ask for help with intense household tasks if you need it.

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