I bet the only time you think about your joints is when you experience pain or discomfort.
What are joints? Joints are where two or more bones meet.
Some are fixed, such as joints in your skull, so they don’t move. Others, like those between your spinal vertebrae, allow some movement. But most joints are free-moving joints.
Cartilage cushions many of your joints. This strong, fibrous tissue helps bones glide over one another and prevents bones from rubbing against each other.
As this strong fibrous tissue deteriorates, adjacent bones lack necessary cushioning. That wear-and-tear can contribute to joint symptoms including pain and inflammation.
Joint pain can appear as discomfort, pain, or inflammation from any part of your joint including cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons or muscles. This pain can be mildly sore or excruciatingly debilitating.
As you grow older, cartilage deteriorates. Genetics can also impact healthy joints. Women are more likely than men to have joint problems including osteoarthritis.
Taking care of your joints now can make life easier for you with age. Healthy joints allow you to run, walk, jump, play sports, move comfortably, and do all the other things you love to do.
Fortunately, you can prevent deterioration and maintain healthy joints with the right approach.
These nine strategies can relieve pressure, reduce stiffness, lighten the burden on your joints, and maintain joint health at any age.
1. Keep your ideal weight. For every 500 grams you lose, you reduce pressure on your knees by 100 grams +.
2. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Reducing inflammation can improve overall joint health and keep joint problems at bay.
Wild-caught fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds are among the foods richest in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation that can impact your joints. If you don’t regularly eat these foods, consider an omega-3 fatty acid formula.
3. Drink plenty of filtered water. Cartilage is about 80% water. When you’re not hydrated, your body can pull water from cartilage and damage your joints. Keep clean filtered water in your fridge and sip throughout your day.
4. Keep good posture. Many of us aren’t even aware that we slouch over laptops and stoop while we’re walking. Protect your joints — including your hardworking spine! — by standing and sitting up straight. If you need to, create reminders to sit and stand up straight. Walking and swimming can also help improve your posture.
5. Focus on quality sleep. Poor sleep can increase joint pain and inflammation, plus it can increase your risk of injury. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep every night. Develop a sleep routine that might include a hot bath, some light stretching or deep breathing, and a natural sleep supplement if necessary. Talk with your healthcare practitioner if joint pain prevents you from sleeping well.
6. Increase in movement. The more you move, the less stiff you’ll be. Change positions often when you’re working or watching TV. Movement all adds up, so park further away from the door, do some planks or push-ups during TV commercials, and find small ways to fit fitness in throughout your day.
7. Don’t overdo exercise. While being a little sore after exercise is one thing, joint pain can be a red flag for problems like osteoarthritis. Rest and recovery are critical but often overlooked aspects of any fitness program that will keep you performing at peak condition while optimising joint health. For help recovering and reducing soreness from exercise try a natural BCAA before or during your workout. l
8. Minimise the impact. Exercise increases strength and flexibility while reducing joint pain. Especially if you suffer any form of joint stiffness or pain, choose low-impact activities such as walking, bicycling, swimming, and strength training.
9. Get the right nutrients. When you’re following these dietary and lifestyle strategies, a few key nutrients can help support healthy connective tissue, reduce inflammation, and help maintain healthy joints.