Joints are the body’s hinges. They provide a wide range of motion throughout the body, allowing us to swing, bend, rotate and more. Each joint is made up of cartilage, ligaments and a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid which all work together to cushion the area between bones and support comfortable movement.
Without healthy joints, bones can rub together and make even the simplest movements painful, which is why properly caring for joints is so important. Take care of joints to avoid damaged joints that can lead to injuries, discomfort and joint disease such as arthritis.
How to Protect Your Joints
Maintain a healthy weight with diet and exercise
Keeping a healthy body weight is one of the simplest, but most effective and important ways to keep joints working right. Every excess pound forces the body, especially joints, to strain to accommodate the extra weight.
Eating healthy foods contributes greatly to weight loss and weight maintenance, but remember to also think about nutrients. Calcium builds strong bones, which leads to strong joints, so consuming calcium rich vegetables like broccoli and spinach will build strong bones and strong joints as well. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Include fortified milk, cereal and fish into your diet so the body can fully soak up the proper nutrients.
Exercise is another component to a healthy body weight. Building muscle and flexibility supports joints and protects them from injury. Swimming and biking are great ways to get the heart rate up and burn calories without straining joints.
Although exercise is helpful to joints, don’t over exasperate the body with excessive workouts. Remember to acknowledge the body’s limits and find a balance between physically challenging yourself and allowing the body to rest and recover, especially if a certain area is in pain.
Stretching loosens up the body. Stretching before and after exercise is important to avoid injury and stress. Know the body’s limits and take it easy when stretching before a workout because the body isn’t loosened up yet.
Stretch and move around throughout the day, not just during a workout. Sitting in one place for too long causes stiffness in the joints, leading to pain, so get moving every hour and stretch daily.
Make use of proper technique
Your back and other joints experience wear and tear and are prone to injury. Find ways to to do tasks like pushing and pulling and lifting heavy objects using proper technique, incorporating the legs and core muscles to lift.
Be sure to incorporate cardiovascular exercise as well as resistance training into your personal workout regimen. Cardiovascular exercise trains your heart and lungs to deliver oxygenated blood more efficiently to your muscles and entire body. Resistance training helps strengthen your muscles, bones and joints and helps prevent injury. Attempt to avoid impact exercise, which decreases the stress through your joints. Non-impact exercise such as bicycling, elliptical training and swimming are excellent exercise without the impact stress to your joints.