It’s said that we should treat our bodies like a temple. But even the most magnificent structures can fall into disrepair, requiring preventive maintenance and general repair. Fortunately, the body is an amazing example of resiliency and efficiency. That being said, years of abuse and bad habits can take their toll, and the price we pay usually is pain, illness, or disease. This is especially true of your joints. Just asking how you can improve joint health shows an awareness and willingness to do what it takes to keep your body and joints in good working order. Here’s how you can start to improve your joint health.
- Don’t stay in one place all the time! Whether working, relaxing or driving, get up and move to stretch and shake out the stiffness. If you’re on your feet all day, take a few minutes to sit and put your feet up every hour or two. If you sit at a desk in front of a monitor, take breaks to walk around and stretch your muscles. When you are relaxing, limit your couch time. It will feel better after some exercise, anyway! Lack of movement is the beginning of stiffness, after all.
- Be ergonomic. Remind yourself to take care with your posture. Sit and stand up straight, shoulders back, eyes level. Looking down at your phone for long periods of time is just as bad as not having your monitor at eye level and can result in a pain called “tech neck.” Make an effort to keep your workspace as natural as possible for your body.
- Keep it low impact. Weekend warriors and runners should switch it up and take up lower impact exercises, too. Running, jumping, changing direction on the fly can wear out your joints. Strengthening workouts that are good for your joints include walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics, yoga, and Pilates.
- Stretch! Before you hit the road or jump in the pool, stretch those tendons and muscles. Flexibility protects and strengthens joints by helping keep the pressure off. Picture the spongy cartilage between the vertebrae in your spine. All of our daily activities compress the spine by the nature of gravity. Give your spine a lift by stretching it out before the cartilage wears out.
- Lose extra pounds. Being overweight is the leading preventable contributor to arthritis. Losing just a little weight lightens the load on your knees and feet. It’s never too late to start a healthy diet or exercise regime.
- Eat right. Or at least supplement. Any diet can go to an extreme, so keep it low in saturated fat and avoid a lot of simple carbs like sugar and white flour that fill you up with empty calories. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains will give your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to keep your joints feeling great. If you have a hard time with the food pyramid (plate? It’s a plate now?), then take a quality multivitamin and adding natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric.
Orthopaedic Associates in the Cleveland area offers expert care and treatment for the full range of orthopedic concerns, including joint health. Conservative care is always the first option but our surgeons perform successful joint replacement procedures for those who need them. We have two locations in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties: Westlake, and Avon. Call (440) 892-1440 for an appointment today.