If it hurts to stand up, sit down, and walk around, then how can we function? Unfortunately, our joints naturally degrade as we become older. The cartilage between the bones wears down, as does the amount of fluid that cushions our joints. However, that doesn't mean we have to be in pain! We can take steps to improve the health of our joints so that we can move easily and feel good. Here are 10 ways to improve the health of our joints.
The very best thing we can do for our joints is to strengthen our muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This means we should strength train consistently. This may seem overwhelming to do since most of us aren't regularly hitting the weight room at the gym. However, we can make ourselves stronger in all sorts of ways. We can start off by just using our own body weight, or we can use resistance bands and light weights. As our strength improves, we can move up to heavier weights!
Warning: if your joints are inflamed due to arthritis of other health condition causing inflammation, do not work out through pain (during a flare) as not to aggravate your condition. Listen to your body and consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
For great strength workouts using weights and resistance bands , try our Building Strength Classes with Liz Bradley in Wysefit App.
Our bones play a significant role in how our bodies and joints hold up. If our bones are healthy, then they will be able to help support our body, which will take the pressure off of our joints. We can improve bone health by doing weight-bearing exercises like walking and jogging. Strength training is also a great way to increase bone strength! So, when we lift weights, we are improving our muscles, bones, and joints.
Carrying extra weight around puts extra pressure on our joints. As a result, we accelerate the deterioration of the cartilage that cushions these vital body parts. Losing weight will help our joints feel better and work more efficiently.The good news is that we don't even need to lose a lot of weight. Even losing just five pounds can make a big difference for our joints! Every pound lost releases four pounds of pressure on our knee joints. So if we lose five pounds, we are taking 20 pounds of pressure off of our knees! We can lose weight by making small changes to our diets – eating less processed foods, avoiding dessert a few times a week, and exercising more. Fortunately, since we now know that strength training will improve our joints, we're already doing that, and the weight loss will naturally follow.
Sitting in one position for too long often leads to stiff joints that just don't want to move! How many times have we sat at our desk or table and then stood up to find that our knees, ankles, and hips aren't willing to walk? We can avoid this by taking breaks every 30 - 45 minutes to stand up and stretch. Whether we are watching TV, writing an e-mail, or reading a book, setting a timer to remind us to get up and move will keep us from sitting for too long. It's best to take a quick walk up and down the hallway or make a trip to the restroom. If we can't walk around, then we need to be sure and stretch our bodies. We can bend at our hips, bend our knees, and circle our wrists.This is something we should all be doing anyway. Studies have shown that being sedentary is extremely harmful, and everyone should be up and moving at least once every hour. Remember: even five minutes of exercise will do you a world of good!
Some of our joints are fussier than others. If our wrists give us problems, warm them up in the morning by performing some simple hand exercises. Of course, you should not work out or move excessively through pain when the joins are inflamed during a "flair", but try starting your day with movement, and moving throughout the day.
It is important to warm up with dynamic movement and save static stretching till after your workout or physical activity. For example, you can try warming up with dance and music with our Dancer Conditioning Warm-up from the Belly Dance Fit series in Wysefit App:
Sometimes we may find that our beds are too high or that our furniture is harder to move around when we vacuum. When this happens, then we should adjust our home to suit our needs. There's no shame in making changing that makes our lives easier or help us experience less pain! We deserve to feel comfortable and be able to move easily in our homes. So, if we find ourselves needing a little more help to protect our joints, then we should make a list. Can we take the bed off its frame? Can we put the furniture on castors? Do we need a rail in the bathroom? These adjustments do not make us old, nor should we resist them. We want to live healthy, happy lives, and that means protecting our joints should be a high priority!
Many of us enjoy playing sports or exercising outdoors. If so, we should be protecting our joints! Braces and wraps are a good idea for when we play sports like tennis and golf. We can protect our wrists, knees, and ankles every time we do our favorite activities! Braces work the best because they stabilize our joints, so they cannot move in the incorrect way. They also relieve pressure, so no more harm can be done to the cartilage that may be deteriorating.
Stretching is more than just loosening our muscles. It also helps our joints perform better and increases our range of motion! However, it's very important to stretch after exercise. If we stretch cold muscles, we run the risk of tearing or straining them. If all our schedule calls for is a light stretch, then we need to make sure we take a short walk or march in place to warm up our muscles and heart. If you are planning a workout, warm-up with dynamic moves like air-squats beforehand and finish with stretching after your activity. This will safely allow us to stretch and ensure that we can move better throughout the day.
Another great way to stretch is foam rolling. It can help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation, and increase your joint range of motion.
Related: Guide to Foam Rolling
We may be tempted to push through a workout or activity to lose weight and get in better shape. However, we need to listen to our bodies. If we experience pain that is not good – the kind that lets us know something is wrong – then we need to stop what we are doing and rest. Most of us know when pain is the good kind, but we occasionally choose to ignore the bad pain. If we feel more than just muscle soreness or any type of pain that lasts longer than 48 hours after an activity, then it is probably joint pain. This means it's time to rest and allow our joints to heal before trying a different activity.
Protecting our joints is one of the best things we can do as we get wiser. Joint pain is common, but we don't have to suffer! Taking steps to prevent joint pain from being a problem will go a long way in relieving future pain and give us peace of mind. As always, we should consult a doctor if we have any concerns. However, most of the best ways to prevent joint pain are listed above and can be easily done at home. All we need is a little willpower and a desire to save our joints. So let's not hesitate to take action. Our joints will thank us!
If you'd like to give some of the Wysefit exercises featured in this article a try, download Wysefit app and enjoy!