One thing that most humans take for granted is the joints on our bodies.
It isn’t until the joints start causing us pain, stop working properly, or become injured that we realize all the marvelous things that our joints do.
When I was a young man, someone once told me that the thing I would miss most when I got older was my knees. I didn’t really understand that at the time, but I certainly do now.
While many people believe that they won’t suffer from joint pain or problems because they get regular exercise, the truth is that exercise, while it’s excellent for the body in many ways, it can be really hard on the joints.
There are a few secrets, however, that can go a long way towards helping you keep your joints working properly and pain-free.
Want to know more? Check out my secrets for keeping your joints healthy for a lifetime.
Best Tips for Maintaining Healthy Joints
Remember that healthy joints rely on strong connective tissue and bones, so if you develop tendonitis or have a family history of osteoporosis, be sure to take your doctor or chiropractor’s advice for taking care of yourself.
Secret #1- Go Low
Low impact exercise, that is.
The best types of exercise are the ones that don’t give your joints a regular pounding day after day. Some of the best exercise that won’t ruin your joints include:
Many of the above exercises can still improve cardiovascular health but are easy on the joints.
Secret #2- Improve Your Flexibility
When you don’t stretch regularly, the joints can feel stiff because of shortened ligaments, tendons, and muscles. You can improve the flexibility of your joints by becoming more limber. Try to incorporate at least two stretching programs into your exercise routine each week.
Secret #3- Build Muscle
Muscles help to support the joints, especially the knees. Having stronger muscles means that the joint does less work. Even a small amount of muscle growth or increase in muscle strength can make a huge difference in how the joints function and how they feel.
Secret #4-Your Mother Was Right
When your mother yelled at you to sit up straight, she was 100% right. Slouching is a huge source of neck pain, shoulder pain, and low back pain.
I see patients almost daily who suffer from joint pain in one area or another and many times it stems from sedentary jobs where the person spends most of their days slouched over a keyboard. You might think that all that “joint cracking” would be enough to make them sit up straight, many people have developed this bad habit to the point that they don’t even recognize that they are slouching!
Sit up straight when you are at your desk and take frequent breaks to look up and move your neck around when using your cell phone.
Secret #5-Maintain a Healthy Weight
This is easier said than done, I know, but it is vital if you want to have pain free joints. Every pound that you lose is 4 pounds less pressure on your knees, ankles, hips, and feet.
If you need help losing weight, speak to your doctor, or join a community exercise group. Weight Watchers or similar groups offer a source of positive support and friendship with others who are also trying to lose weight.
Secret #6-Treat Injuries Right Away
This is especially true if you hurt the joint itself. Joints that have been injured can quickly lose cartilage, which makes it much more difficult to heal and restore full function.
If you should injure a joint (or if you have unexplained pain in a joint(s)) see your primary care physician or chiropractor as soon as possible. You must take steps right away to minimize more damage and reduce inflammation, not to mention manage pain.
Secret #7-Drink Water
You might be sick of constantly hearing “drink water”, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The cartilage in your joints is kept lubricated by water and other fluids. When we don’t drink enough water, the body compensates by reducing the fluid in the joints, which can cause pain and joint damage.
Secret #8- Reduce Stress
You may not know it, but stress causes our bodies to kick into a response mode that includes inflammation. Inflammation causes pain and swelling, including in the joints.
While you can’t remove all sources of stress from your life, you can learn to manage it. Meditation, yoga, and tai chi are all great ways to manage stress. Regular massage therapy is also helpful when it comes to reducing stress.
Secret #9-Consider Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
If you are under a doctor’s care or if you are taking any prescription medication, always speak to your pharmacist, doctor, or chiropractor before consuming any supplements, even “all-natural” ones to avoid a dangerous drug interaction.
Inflammation is the culprit everyone needs to beat to stop pain, reduce swelling, and improve joint health. There are many natural supplements which have been proven to fight inflammation, including:
Pay attention to the pain signals that your body sends you. Don’t continue to exercise or do tasks that cause your joints to hurt until you see a health care professional.
It’s also a good idea to balance activities in your life. This means making time for rest, work, and play.
In rare cases, joint pain is a sign of a more serious condition, such as tendonitis, Lyme disease, bursitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoporosis. If your joint pain does not subside substantially within 4 weeks or if it becomes worse, see your chiropractor or doctor as soon as possible.
Dr. Brent Wells is a licensed chiropractor who founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles without drugs or invasive surgeries. He brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care and massage therapy in Anchorage. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.
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