Keeping your joints healthy should be a top priority. Beyond avoiding the significant pain of injured or inflamed joints, healthy joints enable you to live life fully. Healthy joints also let you stay active, and being active unleashes the potential for overall health and longevity. With that in mind, you should have a clear strategy to keep your joints as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Joint replacement surgery (whether knee or hip) as joints wear out has become more common. In many cases, these surgeries could have been delayed or avoided completely with a little more joint care.
First, pay attention to pain. If you have arthritis or joint injury, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Avoid poor body mechanics and make sure to avoid movements and activities that put too much stress on your joints, such as repetitive improper lifting technique or over torquing/twisting movements.
Second, stay active and use those joints. Being active helps keep the weight down. Keeping the weight down reduces the stress on joints. Obesity or excess body weight can cause significant wear and tear on your joints. Those joints were meant to handle a certain amount of stress based on your ideal body weight. If you are carrying more weight than your ideal body weight, your joints are under additional pressure. Getting your weight to a better place is the best move you can make to keep your joints healthy.
Third, try activities that reduce stress on your joints. Swimming and cycling are great examples since they reduce stress on your joints by limiting the weight load on those joints. These activities are also great because they get the heart rate up, promoting cardiovascular health, and they help keep the pounds off. At the same time, these exercises help with the next point, which is keeping the muscles around joints strong.
Fourth, strengthening the muscles surrounding joints helps support and stabilize the joints. Those muscles take some of the burden off of those joints and protect those joints during movements that require stability. Muscle strength is an investment that will keep your joints healthy and better protected from injury.
Fifth, flexibility is another great investment in joint health and longevity. Range of motion exercises, including yoga, or simple movement exercises help to keep the joints nimble, which means they are more likely to get used. The more those joints are used in a broad range of motion, the more functional they will be for the long run. Range of motion exercises can help overcome joint stiffness and pain.
A little investment in joint health means a lifetime of pain-free activity, and an active life means a full life. That payback is well worth the modest investment.
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