Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older Americans. This condition usually occurs in weight-bearing joints and can significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life. While there are many therapeutic and pharmacological treatments available for osteoarthritis, the best thing you can do is practice preventative care by taking steps to keep your joints healthy as you age.
As many people get older, they wonder how they can strengthen their joints naturally to keep them healthy over the years. In this guide, we’ll look at 8 of the most effective ways to protect your joints.
1. Keep Your Body Moving and Your Muscles Strong
While too much high-impact activity isn’t good for your joints, it’s still important to keep your body moving. It’s one of the most popular sayings in preventative healthcare: a body in motion stays in motion, and the more active you are, the longer you’ll enjoy healthy joints. If you don’t exercise, on the other hand, your joints may become stiff and painful.
The best exercises for joint health are ones that don’t place extra pressure on your joints. Some examples are walking, swimming, and biking. In addition to incorporating daily movement into your routine, you’ll also want to incorporate strength training. The stronger your muscles are, the more support your joints will have.
2. Do Range-of-Motion Exercises
Flexibility helps people move better and avoid injury. Stretching daily or at least before exercising will help warm up your muscles and joints, helping protect them from damage and juvenile arthritis. However, another way to improve flexibility and joint health is to do range-of-motion exercises.
Arthritis, the top medical condition that affects the joints, is closely linked to a limited range of motion. By routinely moving each joining through its full range of motion, you can not only preserve your current range of motion, but you can also improve it!
These exercises are simple. They involve extending, bending, and rotating each joint to improve flexibility and relieve stiffness. If you have existing joint issues, always consult with your doctor or physical therapist before trying range-of-motion exercises.
3. Do Your Best To Maintain a Healthy Weight
More than 70% of American adults are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital when it comes to joint health because excess body weight adds unnecessary stress to the joints – especially those below the waist.
Studies show that weight loss is one of the safest and most effective ways to improve knee pain, stiffness, and function in patients with osteoarthritis without unwanted side effects. If you’re looking to keep your joints healthy as you age, be sure to keep an eye on what you eat, the exercises you do, and the number on the scale.
4. Add These Foods To Your Diet to Strengthen Your Joints
One way to improve joint health naturally is to eat the right foods. Many nutritionists and health experts alike agree that one way you can maintain healthy joints by eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Here are some anti-inflammatory foods you should add to your diet to help strengthen and maintain healthy joints:
- Whole grains like oatmeal
- Turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger
- Cherries, blackberries, and pomegranates
- Red peppers
- Oily fish like canned salmon, trout, or sardines that contain omega-3 fatty acids
- Flax seeds, olive oil or walnuts
- Kale, broccoli, collard greens, and other dark, leafy greens
Since you should focus on reducing inflammation, you’ll want to avoid inflammatory foods, such as dairy products.
5. Supplement Your Diet With A Multivitamin
Calcium and Vitamin D are required for healthy bones, and you need Vitamin D to effectively absorb calcium. Similarly, chondroitin and glucosamine are two additional nutritional supplements that have shown promise in improving joint health and treating osteoarthritis. Some people may benefit from simply taking a multivitamin.
While you can obtain Vitamin D and other nutrients from a healthy diet, some people need supplementation with vitamins and minerals. Speak with your doctor about running a blood test to determine any possible vitamin deficiencies and learn if a multivitamin is right for you.
6. Choose Comfort and Function Over Fashion
Looking good is important – but not as important as feeling good. Whether you’re wearing high heels for several hours a day or don’t have shoes with adequate support, not having the right type of shoe can put extra stress on your ankles and knees, increasing your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Your shoes should be flexible at the ball of your foot, have a padded sole for extra cushion, and have plenty of room for your toes. They should provide arch and heel support as well. For extra support, you may purchase shoe inserts or talk to your doctor about custom orthopedics.
7. Take Steps to Correct Poor Posture
Poor posture will add excess stress on your joints and increase your risk of injury to the muscles surrounding your joints. You can help keep your joints healthy by being mindful of your posture while sitting, standing, lifting, and lounging. Other activities that help promote good posture include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Wearing comfortable and supportive shoes
- Working on surfaces that are at a comfortable height
- Staying active by walking, swimming, or doing yoga
- Setting up reminders to sit up straight and be mindful of your posture
8. Listen To Your Body
The last, and perhaps most important, thing to remember about joint health is that your body knows what’s best. If you feel pain when doing a certain exercise – stop! If a new popping or cracking noise starts coming from your knee, call your doctor! Your body sends you messages for a reason, so it’s essential to listen to it.
Physical therapists can introduce you to specialized exercises that work for your body to keep your muscles and bones strong. Occupational therapists can help you learn how to do certain activities in ways that don’t place extra stress on your muscles and joints. And, at Kelmedix, we can provide you with the splints, walking aids, and orthopedics supplies you need. Visit our online store or speak with your doctor today to get started.