It’s easy to take your joints for granted – until you start experiencing pain that limits you from your day-to-day activities. Although you might not think about them often, your knees, hips and other joints are some of your most important body parts; they allow you to stay active and do the things you love. Practice these ten tips to help protect your joints, relieve joint pain and improve your overall joint health.
1. Maximize your muscles
Your joints are made up of bone, ligaments, cartilage and muscle. Building up the muscles around your joints can help your body absorb shock – whether it be from exercising, falling or just doing day-to-day activities. Balancing the types of aerobic activities you do can help you strengthen your joint muscles, as well as using exercises that are specific to those parts of your body. Squats and seated leg raises can help you build muscle in your knees, while hip flexion and wall slides can assist in strengthening your hips.
2. Dress for success
Believe it or not, making simple changes to your wardrobe can help reduce wear and tear on your knee joints. Your shoes affect how your feet absorb shock and how the surface under your feet impacts your body. On top of that, each person’s feet are different – so your shoe choice should be, too. Make sure to choose footwear that provides stability, cushioning and comfort for your unique foot type. Understanding your walking pattern and foot shape (narrow, wide, arch height, etc.) can help you pick the best shoe for you and improve your joint health. Talk to a professional at your local running store if you’d like some help understanding your footwear needs.
3. Watch your back
When you sit or stand incorrectly, you put extra strain on your muscles, ligaments and joints. Practicing good posture can help keep your joints in the correct alignment and protect them from accelerated degeneration, deformity, loss of function and pain. When you’re sitting or standing, make sure your shoulders are relaxed, your chin is parallel to the ground and your feet flat are on the floor. Alternating between sitting and standing can also help keep your muscles loose and your blood flowing.
4. Scale down
Maintaining a healthy weight is critical to protecting your joints. Your knees and hips are commonly referred to as “weight-bearing” joints. When you’re overweight, your joints have to work extra hard to protect your bones and you’re more susceptible to conditions such as arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia and other joint-related diseases. Many treatments and procedures for pain relief often require a minimum body mass index (BMI) as well. Lowering your weight can help you relieve stress on your joints and allow you to receive the treatments you may need. Talk to your doctor about what weight is healthy for you.
5. Clean up your plate
Eating well can do more than help you maintain a healthy weight. When you add more natural foods to your plate, you can add nutrients that are important to joint health – like Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, which all work together to regulate bone density. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help reduce arthritis. Practice your portion sizes and try incorporating foods like yogurt, broccoli, kale, and salmon into your diet to help strengthen your joints.
6. Practice educated exercise
“Exercise” is a wide-ranging term that means different things for everyone. Whether you’re newer to physical activity or are an advanced adventurist, it’s important to know what activities can hurt and help your joints. Aerobic exercise can help you improve blood flow and reduce stiffness, as well as maintain a healthy weight. High-impact activities like jumping and running can cause more wear on your knees and hips; however, balancing them with low-impact activities like rowing, stationary cycling and swimming can help you build more muscle around your joints and avoid excessive joint use. With all activities, make sure you use proper form and the right equipment to optimize your exercise.
7. Stretch it out
You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits of regular stretching. Stretching in the right way for the right amount of time can help you increase blood flow, boost oxygen levels and deliver nutrients to your muscles, as well as maintain a good range of motion and reduce your chance of joint injury. According to Harvard Medical School, a smart stretch would be held for 15 seconds and repeated three times or held for 20 seconds and repeated twice.
8. Stress less
If left unaddressed, mental stress can be just as harmful to your body as physical stress. Extra stress can cause you to clench your muscles, sleep less, be prone to a weakened immune system and more. In addition to exercising regularly, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight, try focusing on relaxing with activities that force you to press pause. Regular massages from a trained therapist can loosen muscles and joints and provide some pain relief. You can also try practicing yoga, meditating or using other activities to relax your brain and get your endorphins flowing.
9. Listen to your body
As important as it is to stay active and keep doing the things you love, it’s also important to know when enough is enough. If something doesn’t feel right after a few rounds of golf or cycling, don’t push your luck – sit out for a game, day or few weeks until you can understand and address the root of the issue. Also, be sure to ease into any new activity. Remember that if it’s new to you, it’s new to your entire body (muscles, joints and all); so, it may take a while for your body to warm up to the new motions.
10. Talk to your doctor
Your doctor is the best person to talk to about preventing joint injury and improving your joint health. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about your joint health, especially if you have a family history of joint disease. Keep track of any issues or questions you may have on a notepad, then bring your questions to your next doctor’s appointment. He or she will be able to tell you the habits, exercises and activities that will work best for you.
If you’re experiencing joint pain, your doctor may recommend medications, injections or physical therapy that can help relieve pain and inflammation. With a combination of healthy habits like the ones listed above, you may be able to reduce your joint pain and chance of injury.
In some cases, conservative treatments may not offer relief. If you fit the right qualifications, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery.
|While this may seem like a last-chance approach, joint replacement surgery can have you back to moving like your old self in no time.|
Muve Health provides a new option for people who want an extraordinary experience when it comes to knee or hip surgery. Muve’s affiliated joint replacement specialists focus on recovery support and education distinctly designed to help people get back to their specific, personalized goals as safely, quickly and enjoyably as possible.*
If you’re experiencing knee or hip pain that is keeping you from feeling like yourself, find out how Muve can help you get back to living life fully. To learn more about Muve Health and our innovative approach to total joint replacement care and recovery support, visit muvehealth.com.
*Results are not guaranteed; individual results and recovery timelines vary based on each unique patient’s medical situation and recovery needs.
Surgical services are provided by independent professional corporations and not by Muve Health. This blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.