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Seven tips to keep your joints healthy

by , 15 November 2013

Caring for your joints is crucial to your health. And the best way to do it is to keep them and your muscles, ligaments and bones strong and stable. How? Use these seven tips to help keep your joints healthy…

A joint is the connection between two bones. Joints and their surrounding structures allow you to bend your elbows and knees, wiggle your hips, bend your back, turn your head and wave your fingers to say bye-bye.

But with overuse or injury, cartilage on the end of the joints can break down, causing a narrowing of the joint space and the bones to rub together. Painful bony growths, or spurs, may form, reports medical website WedMD.

This can lead to swelling, stiffness and possibly osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to avoid this and keep your joints healthy.

Here are seven tips for good joint health

WedMD outlines seven methods you can use to keep your joints healthy:

#1: Protect your body and your joints: Injury can damage joints. So protecting your joints your whole life is important. Wear protective gear like elbow and knee pads when taking part in high-risk activities like rugby. If your joints are already aching, consider wearing braces when playing tennis or golf.

#2: Healthy weight for healthy joints: Joints hurting? Lose just a few kilos and you’ll take some strain off your hips, knees and back. Extra kilos add to the load placed on these joints, increasing the risk of cartilage breakdown. Even a little weight loss can help. Every kilo you lose takes four kilos of pressure off your knees

#3: Low-impact exercise for joints: What exercise is good? To protect your joints, your best choices are low-impact options like walking, cycling and swimming. That’s because high-impact, pounding, and jarring exercise can increase your risk of joint injuries and may slowly cause cartilage damage. You must also include light weight-lifting exercises. But if you already have arthritis, first speak with your doctor.

#4: Strengthen muscles around joints: Stronger muscles around joints mean less stress on those joints. Research shows that having weak thigh muscles increases your risk of knee osteoarthritis, for example. Even small increases in muscle strength can reduce that risk. Avoid rapid and repetitive motions of affected joints, says WedMD.

#5: Strengthen your core: How can strong abs help protect joints? Stronger abs and back muscles help with balance. The more balanced you are, the less likely you are to damage your joints with falls or other injuries. So include core (abdominal, back and hips) strengthening exercises in your routine.

#6: Drink milk to keep bones strong: Calcium and vitamin D help keep bones strong. Strong bones can keep you on your feet and prevent falls that can damage joints. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but other options are green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.

#7: Treat joint injuries: Physical trauma can contribute to cartilage breakdown and arthritis. If you injure a joint, see your doctor right away for treatment. Then take steps to avoid more damage. You may need to avoid activities that overstress the joint or use a brace to stabilise it.

Well there you have it. With these tips you’ll be sure to keep your joints healthy and help prevent arthritis.

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