What is actually a joint? The connection between two bones is called joint. A smooth connective tissue that is at the end of the bones- cartilage, cushions the joints and helps with their movement. Helps the joints to move easy and smooth.
Also, it protects the bones. How? Well, it helps and prevents not to rub against each other.
There are different kinds of joints such as movable and rigid. The movable are those in your shoulders, knees, and hips. The joints between the bones in your skull are rigid.
Your joints control every movement from turning, standing, lying down, bending and all the way to lifting. With healthy joints you can do all the things you want to do such as to play sports, to jump, run and walk.
The fact is that most of us underestimate our joints. Unless we start to feel swelling or pain.
The childhood years is the best time to start and to take care of your joints. You need to prevent joint-related issues and to keep and have healthy joints.
Keep your joints along with your bones, muscles, and ligaments stable and secure. That is the best way to take care for the joint of your children and also your own.
With appropriate dietary practices and an appropriate lifestyle, you do not have to worry about your joints.
Ways to Keep Your Joints Healthy
1. Quit Smoking
The first thing you can do is to change your lifestyle and quit that bad habit. Cigarettes have harmful chemicals that prevent the body to absorb calcium, and with that, the bone mass is decreased. There for smokers have a higher risk of fractures and lower bone density.
Cigarettes make the chronic musculoskeletal conditions worse, like degenerative disc disease and low back pain. Also, smoking can affect the production of testosterone and estrogen.
In 2007, the Annals of Rheumatic Disease published a study that points out the connection between the risk of cartilage loss and knee pain in men with knee osteoarthritis and the smoking of cigarettes.
Smoking can increase the risk of fractures by making you too thin. Maybe this will add to the list why you need to quit smoking.
2. No More Soda Beverages
For pain-free joints and healthy joints, if you can not stop at least limit the soda. Why? Because soda can reduce bone mineral density and can also increase the risk of fracture.
Too much soda can increase the phosphate level in your blood, which may lead to depletion of calcium from the bones.
An excess amount of soda can prevent the absorption of calcium. It would be very harmful for your joints and bones to have an imbalance in calcium-phosphorus ratio in your body.
Another thing that may arise from too much soda is a chronic joint pain, bear in mind that the caffeine in your soda drinks is also harmful.
In addition, there is too much sugar in soda. The body stores the sugar as fat which leads to weight gain.
And if your weight is important for the joints, because if you weight more, your joints will feel more pressure.
In 2014, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that points out that drinking soda can increase the risk for development of rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The key to the healthy joint is a healthy weight. If you weight more than needed, that can increase the risk of having problems with your joints.
The more you weight, the more pressure your joints have to bear. This can lead to tear and wear on the joints. Excess body weight can increase the risk of the most common joint disorder i.e. osteoarthritis.
Also, too much weight can cause inflammation in your body, and that will contribute to feel pain in your joints.
You need to lose weight in a gradual, slow manner if you already have pain in your joints. That can prevent additional joint problems.
In 2012, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation published a study that reports that with weight loss and reduction of body fat may help and reduce the biochemical and mechanical stressors that lead to joint degeneration.
In 2005, the Arthritis Rheumatism published a study that points out that with each pound lost the knee-joint loads reduce with obese and overweight adults that suffer from knee osteoarthritis.
4. Strengthen Your Joints with Exercise
To protect your joints from damage, you need to exercise on a regular basis. With regular exercise, you can strengthen the ligaments and muscles surrounding joints and make your bones strong.
In the same time with regular exercise, you can lose weight, and that will help additionally to your joints because they shall need to bear less pressure.
You can do cardio exercises that have low-impact forms like cycling, swimming and walking. These cardio exercises can help you to strengthen your joints and bones.
Do cardio five days a week for thirty minutes.
Twice a week, you can lift light weight and with that strengthen your joints. Do that along with other exercises such as relaxation and stretching.
Consult your physical therapist about some range of motion exercises and what you need to do.
No matter what exercise you choose to do, do not forget to rest after exercising. This can give time to your muscles and joints to repair. Choose your exercise according to your body composition.
Consult a physiotherapist in case of joint-related problems. The physiotherapist can make a program of strengthening and stretching exercises.
5. Warming Up Before Exercise Is A Must
Do not forget to do at least a ten minute warm up every time before you start to exercise. The warm up is crucial and vital because it helps to increase the circulation of your blood and with that, your body prepares the joints and muscles for the upcoming workout.
Also, you can improve the flexibility of the joints thereby the joints can move in their full range of motion. The ligaments, joints, and tendons around them loose up.
Always warm up because if you don’t the joint will stay stiff and with that, they are more prone to injuries.
You can do a light warm up, before playing a sport or before exercising like jogging for ten minutes. Also, you can do stretching exercises to help your muscles and joints additionally.
6. Strengthen Muscles around Joints
You can strengthen your muscles around the joints, and with that, you will keep your joints in good condition. By having strong muscles in your hands and legs that can help and reduce the pressure and the stress on your joints.
It can also provide better support for your joints. You can reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis with strong thigh muscles.
In 2012, in the Sports Health, there was a published study that notes that people that have knee osteoarthritis experience muscle impairments. These muscle impairments need therapy, and they affect the physical function.
You are less likely to get injured or fall if you have strong back muscles and abs. The back muscles and the abs help you with your balance.
You can build up your legs muscles with exercises like weight-training.
Also, make sure to add in your routine strengthening exercises for your core(hip, back and abdominal). You can try yoga or pilates.
Bear in mind to do resistance exercises and strength training every other day. That will give time to your muscles to recover.
7. Maintain Good Posture
Posture is the position of your body you maintain while lying down, sitting or standing.
With good posture, there is a small amount of strain on the ligaments and muscles when you perform some activity or simply move.
While poor posture can cause joint stiffness, achy, tight muscles in your legs, arms, neck and back and also a pain in the future.
In2014, the Journal of Physical Therapy Science published a study which notes that sitting with legs crossed for 3 hours and more on a daily basis can lead to forward head posture, lateral pelvic tilt and shoulder inclination. The factors mentioned above can lead to changes and pain in the joints.
Maintain the right posture when you exercise, walk or sit. This thing should be learned since childhood. But it is never too late.
Good posture is common advice that doctors give in case of joint pain.
In 2000, the BMJ published a study that notes that resting postures and instinctive sleeping help with the treatment of joint and low back pain.
8. Change Positions
Always remember to change the position. To sit and stand in the same position is dreadful for the joints. Make sure not to stand or sit for more than 1 hour at a time. Remember, to change your position. That is the so called golden rule for healthy joints.
Change your position frequently, so your joints won’t feel stiff.
Your body itself will tell you when it is time to change your position; you just need to listen to it. People that sit and stand in their job usually ignore the pain and continue with their work.
Remember this and next time you are in front of your computer, take a break every second hour and maybe walk around for ten minutes. Change your position every time you watch TV, read a book or work.
9. Wear the Right Shoes
To have proper footwear i.e. right shoes is crucial for the health of your bones and joints. Walking in shoes that you find uncomfortable can damage your joints.
It is also bad for the ligaments, muscles, and joints in your feet, hips, legs and back. Bad shoes can cause knee joint problems.
In 2010, in the Arthritis Care Research, there was a study published that points out that footwear has an effect on the knee loads during walking and with knee osteoarthritis.
Wear solid shoes with ankle support and textured sole.
Avoid wearing high heels for long period of time. You can wear instead lower heel or flat shoes. Lower heel is considered to be the one that is less than 3 inches.
Every six to eight months change your shoes.
Consult a podiatrist that can help you to choose the proper footwear according to your health status and body type.
10. Feed Your Bones and Joints
Improve your diet and that for sure can help to strengthen your joints.
For healthy and strong joints eat food high in calcium, vitamin K, and C, potassium, dietary protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium.
Calcium can help to prevent bone-related problems and also osteoporosis. Consume leafy green vegetables such as Swiss chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, beet greens, kale, mustard greens and collard greens to boost your calcium.
Vitamin K can boost the bone density. You can find vitamin K in eggs, leafy greens, cheese, and meat.
Vitamin C helps with the proper development of the bone and with the formation of the collagen. Vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C are cantaloupes, papaya, kiwi, bell peppers, oranges, broccoli, pineapple, strawberries, and Brussels sprouts.
To increase bone density and to fight bone-related problems make sure to consume food abundant in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.
The dietary protein is found in beans, meats and dairy products. The dietary protein improves the bone metabolism and the calcium retention.
Omega-3 fatty acids are good and can improve tour bone mineral density. These fatty acids are found in fatty fish and some seeds and nuts like flax seeds and walnuts.
Another thing you can do in order to prevent inflammation that causes joint pain include inflammation-fighting food. Foods that fight inflammation are fruits, green leafy vegetables, turmeric, garlic, whole grains, almonds, and onion.
Additional Tips That Might Help You
- Consult your doctor, if you feel pain in your joints.
- Choose an exercise that will correspond to your flexibility and the endurance level of your joints.
- Maintain your sports gear if you play sport. Old, torn or worn-out gear can lead to injury.
- Wear proper braces to protect your elbows, knees, and ankles if you play sports.
- You can run a marathon just make sure to have proper training before.
- Consult a doctor if you consider taking supplements, your doctor will help you to make the right choice.
- Keep your feet flat when you stretch to avoid twisting the knees.
- When you jump, remember to land with bent knees and that way you can reduce the jarring impact on your joints, bones, and muscles.
- Take time to rest after you exercise or do some kind of sport. That allows your joint and muscles to start to repair.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Avoid processed foods, aerated drinks, and white sugar.
- If you have joint pain, apply ice pack on the joints to prevent swelling.
- Don’t force babies to walk too early. Allow their joint and bones to develop before they start to walk properly.