You probably don't notice all the ways you use your joints every day, but they help you do everything from waving and turning your head, to climbing steps and lifting objects.
Aging and injuries – even the way you sit – can cause wear and tear on your joints that can lead to arthritis and other joint pain. These five tips will help you keep your joints and the muscles and tissue that support them in good shape.
Maintain a healthy weight
Even if you’re just standing, your weight puts a tremendous amount of pressure on weight-bearing joints such as your back, hips and knees. If you think a few extra pounds won’t hurt anything, remember this: Every extra pound you put on adds four more pounds of stress on your knees.
In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise also reduces joint swelling. If you notice joint pain, try to avoid exercises that can cause you joints to pound (such as running) and opt for ones that are low impact (such as swimming or cycling).
Don’t sit all day
Sitting in front of a TV, computer or smartphone for long periods of time will likely lead to joint pain because of the limited movement. Instead, try to move around as much as possible. If you’re limited to how much you can move around at work, try something simple like stand up when you take a phone call.
Rather than reaching for pain relievers, reduce swelling and numb join pain by icing down achy joints for 20 minutes at a time. Just remember to wrap your icepack with a towel to protect your skin.
A healthy diet
Calcium-rich foods such as kale, broccoli, yogurt and milk can strengthen your bones and joints. To increase muscle strength (which will help with flexibility), make sure you’re getting plenty of protein.
For more information about joint health and how you can improve yours, make an appointment with Dr. Bill Kumler or Dr. Vanessa Falk in our Orthopedics department. If your injury is sports related, contact Dr. Robert Huff in Sports Medicine.