Bad joints can cause major pain and stiffness when you exercise, play sports or even just carry out your everyday tasks. For some people, “bad” joints can become so unhealthy that the only treatment is joint replacement surgery.
Joint pain is often a sign of age, but even some young adults deal with unhealthy joints. Take action to protect your joints now, before the pain escalates to the point where surgery is necessary. Use these five expert tips to take care of your joints so you can enjoy your favorite activities pain-free.
Keep your workouts well-rounded. High-intensity, high-impact exercises like running and plyometrics have their place in your fitness routine and can be a great tool for improving agility, but these types of workouts should be balanced with low-impact cardio exercises. Swimming, walking and using machines like ellipticals, rowing machines and stationary bikes won’t take a toll on your knees, hips and back. And don’t forget the weights. Strength training helps create denser bones and builds stronger muscles to stabilize and protect the joints.
Improve flexibility. Strains, sprains and other injuries to the joints are often the result of limited flexibility and stiffness in the joints. Stretching — whether static or dynamic — is essential to maintaining and improving your range of motion and preventing injuries. Before working out, be sure all the major muscle groups are warmed up, and stretch following your workout to increase flexibility. Yoga is one exercise you can do to strengthen the mind-body connection and keep your joints strong and muscles limber.
Eat right. The food you eat acts as fuel for your body, but the wrong foods can also cause an inflammatory response in the body, resulting in joint pain and stiffness. Alkaline foods such as berries, avocados, ginger, kale and spinach have been shown to improve energy and reduce inflammation in the body. Be sure you’re getting enough calcium and magnesium to keep your bones sturdy.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for your joint health. Every extra pound increases the stress on your joints, and even a small weight loss can make a big difference in reducing joint pain and cutting your risk of osteoarthritis.
Wear the right shoes. Don’t overlook your footwear. No matter the activity, it’s important to wear shoes that provide adequate cushioning and stability while still allowing for some flexibility in the foot and ankle. Before buying your next pair of running shoes, stop by a specialty shoe store to get fitted for a pair of shoes made for your individual arch height and stride. Running shoes should be replaced about every 300 to 500 miles to avoid unnecessary stress on weight-bearing joints.
Keep your posture in check. Whether sitting or standing, practice good posture. Poor posture leads to tightened, compressed muscles and back pain. If you have a desk job, get up and move every hour to stretch and get the blood flowing to help combat back pain and stiffness. Neither sitting nor standing on your feet all day is good for your joint health. If you’re on your feet all day, be sure to give yourself time to sit and rest.
Most importantly, listen to your body. Don’t overexert yourself if you’re feeling pain and stiffness in your joints. Schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to get checked out before putting yourself at risk of an injury. If you’re suffering from back pain or stiffness, contact Dr. Vivek Kushwaha today.