Healthy Joints Today For A Younger You Tomorrow

Joint PainApproximately 21 million adults suffer from osteoarthritis, and that may not be as surprising a statistic as this: a third to half of all doctor visits deal with musculoskeletal issues. Depending on risk factors such as genetics, jobs or hobbies and overall health, osteoarthritis and joint pain can affect anyone.

For women, the effects generally begin to show after age 50 and primarily in the hands, knees, ankles and feet. For men, osteoarthritis is more likely before age 45 and is most prevalent in the wrist, hips and spine. But even a condition as common as this is preventable.

Maintaining a healthy weight is the best things you can do to help safeguard your joints and potentially slow the progression of osteoarthritis over time.

Staying at a healthy weight reduces the stress and small tears that erode cartilage. For every pound you lose, you reduce the stress on your knees by four pounds according to a study in Arthritis and Rheumatism. An 11 pound weight loss can reduce arthritis pain by 50 percent in women.

To stay at a healthy weight, use low or no-impact aerobic activities like swimming, cycling or walking twice a week. Add to that strength training activities such as lifting weights or simple and safe household items twice a week. Don’t forget to stretch, and include relaxation exercises as well. Be careful not to over-use any one muscle group or you run the risk of increasing your pain.

Once you’ve established a weekly exercise routine, switch it up. Weight training strengthens the muscles and ligaments that surround and protect your joints. Choose exercises that don’t do more harm than good to your muscles and joints, like seated leg lifts as opposed to lunges or squats. Wise choices may seem less effective in the beginning, but will offer long term benefits that reduce your pain and strengthen your body.

Use your built in garbage disposal! The lymphatic system pulls the synovial fluid produced during exercise out of your joints. While this lubricant serves a good purpose while you`re exercising – it makes your joints move freely – if it remains it can cause cracks in your cartilage. Ice helps draw synovial fluid out, so ice down aching knees, hips, ankles or any other joints after a workout.

Eat well. Eat smart. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like tuna and salmon can reduce joint pain symptoms and actually change the levels of inflammation that may be the cause of your pain. Vitamin D may also help you in the fight against joint pain by reducing inflammation in the joints. One cup of milk and 3 ounces of salmon contain 800 IUs of vitamin D, the recommended dose for pain reduction.

Understanding that your joints work like a ball-and-socket (shoulders) or like a hinge (knees) can help you work with your body to prevent joint pain. Exercise smart and carry out simple household tasks like vacuuming with your muscles and body limitations in mind. Because cartilage thins as we age, even seemingly meaningless twists and tweaks can result in damaged areas years later.

Caring for your body today means it will require less care and less pain tomorrow.

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