The importance of healthy joints is often overlooked. While bones create the framework for the human skeleton, joints enable us to move, provide range of motion, and are necessary for the simplest to the most complex activities – from holding a pencil or turning our head, to running, golfing, or riding a bike.
A joint, where two or more bones are joined together, can be either rigid, like the joints in your skull, or movable, like knees, hips, and shoulders. Many joints are lined with cartilage, a firm but pliable tissue that allows bones to glide over one another and prevents them from rubbing against each other. Maintaining healthy joints is critical for maintaining mobility and flexibility.
These tips will help you maximize your joint health:
Maintain your ideal weight. Excess body weight places stress on our joints, especially weight-bearing joints. Studies have found that weight loss significantly reduces knee pain, function, and stiffness associated with knee osteoarthritis.1
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Eating foods high in Omega-3s and antioxidants help lubricate the joints and reduce inflammation. This includes fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and leafy green vegetables. 2
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Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated to keep joints lubricated.
Take vitamin D and Calcium. These supplements support bone health.
Do low impact exercises. The Arthritis Foundation recommends low impact exercises that are easy on the joints. Low-impact exercise, such as swimming, walking, and biking, are gentler and put less stress on the joints.
Work on strength training. Complement your low-impact cardio workout with light strength training to keep muscles strong and support joints.
Perform range-of-motion exercises. Put your joints through their full range of motion to improve flexibility.
Maintain good posture. Stand and sit up straight to ensure your spine is aligned. If you sit all day, be sure to take stretching breaks and adjust your posture.
Develop a strong core. Strong core muscles in the back, abdomen, and hips improve balance and reduce the chance of injury.
Stop smoking. There are countless reasons not to smoke, and joint health is one of them that is often overlooked. Smoking increases the risk of osteoarthritis and bone fractures.3
1DeRogatis M, Anis HK, Sodhi N, et al. (2019). Non-operative treatment options for knee osteoarthritis. Ann Transl Med.7(Suppl 7):S245. doi:10.21037/atm.2019.06.68
2Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Mediterranean dietary pattern, inflammation and endothelial function: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014;24(9):929-39. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2014.03.003
3American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (2019). Smoking and musculoskeletal health.