Tips for Improving Your Joint Health
Every movement we make throughout the day, from walking to the car and picking things up around the house, is possible thanks to joints. Joints are where two bones meet to allow movement. The ends of joints are protected by cartilage, which tends to wear down with age. Joint health can often be overlooked as most joint conditions are not deadly, but they do cause discomfort and can impact quality of life. In honor of Healthy Bone and Joint Awareness week in October, we have complied a list of tips to help you improve your joint health.
Risks of Poor Joint Health
Many older adults experience joint discomfort. For some adults, the pain is mild enough to treat with over-the-counter medications. However, if your discomfort prevents you from participating in daily activities, you may want to see a doctor as it can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as arthritis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 23 percent of adults in the United States suffer from arthritis. Arthritis can occur in any joint, but it is most frequent in the hands, knees, hips and spine. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, generally affecting older adults. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage around the ends of the bones wears downs causing pain. Other symptoms of arthritis include swelling of the joint, stiffness and a loss of motion.
Tips for Improving Your Joint Health
For many joint conditions, such as arthritis, there is no cure. However, there are actions you can take to delay the development of arthritis and manage the symptoms.
- Cut back on foods that cause inflammation. Foods that are high in sugars and trans-fats can cause inflammation in the joints. Try limiting the amount of processed foods you consume, and instead, incorporate more non-dairy foods that are high in calcium such as lentils, almonds, spinach and kale.
- Kick unhealthy habits. Just like cutting unhealthy foods from your diet, it is also important to stop unhealthy habits such as smoking. Smoking reduces bone mass which can lead to osteoporosis and puts you at a greater risk of fractures.
- Maintain a healthy weight with an exercise routine involving low-impact activities. Having a strong and healthy body greatly reduces your chances of developing sever joint problems. Avoid high-impact activities such as running, as they tend to put a constant and unnecessary stress on your joints. It is also crucial to know your limits and not overdo any physical exercises. Instead of working out to exhaustion, keep your workout routines short, just enough to get your heart rate up. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
- Increase your range of motion and flexibility with stretching. A common symptom of many joint conditions is a loss in range of motion. Keeping the muscles and ligaments around the joints flexible helps keep the range of motion strong. Warm-up before your workout with dynamic stretches such as lunges or body squats. After your workouts, spend 15 to 30 minutes doing static stretches, such as a toe touch or hurdle stretch.
- Upgrade your footwear. If you are wearing shoes with high heels or without arch support, it may be time to purchase a new pair. Wearing shoes that do not properly support your feet can put extra stress on your knees and ankles. Look for shoes with a 1-inch heel or less, have a rounded toe and that are properly sized for your foot.
- Rotate between standing and sitting. Both standing and sitting for long stretches can cause discomfort in your joints. If you work at a job where you are confined to a desk, try getting up to walk every 30 minutes to an hour to prevent stiffness, especially if you have poor posture. Similarly, if you are constantly on your feet, try to sit every hour to prevent strain on your body.
How Visiting Angels Can Help
If you or a loved one suffers from joint discomfort and needs assistance with daily activities, the trained caregivers at Visiting Angels can help. Our services include light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, bathing, companionship and more. Our Kilmarnock office serves families in Kilmarnock, White Stone, Heathsville, Saluda, Urbanna, Tappahannock, Gloucester and the surrounding areas. If you would like to learn more about how Visiting Angels can assist you and your family, give us a call at 804-435-2229.