As you get older, it’s important that you take care of your joints. Once your joints start hurting, it’s unlikely that the damage can be reversed. It’s impossible to take “time” off your joints, so your 55-year old knees are just that: 55 years old! Wear and tear on your joints, or osteoarthritis, is the most common disease that most adults experience when they neglect to take care of their joints. This can lead to discomfort including stiff or weak knees, achy hips, or even swollen hands!
Unfortunately, once you have osteoarthritis, it’s impossible to cure or reverse the effects. The best medicine for your joints is prevention, so it’s essential that you start getting into good habits that will prevent any joint issues in the future. Here are our top 5 ways to take care of your joints:
Weight. Your joints are only made to support a certain amount of force, so if you’re overweight, you may be adding some extra force to your joints that it can’t take. For every 10 pounds that you’re overweight, you could be adding 20-39 pounds of force on each knee. If you’re underweight, you could also be hurting your joints, as you won’t have the muscle to support your joints. Discuss with your doctor to see if you’re at a comfortable weight that can support your joints.
Activity. Related to your weight, try to stay regularly physically active to help keep you in shape and add some muscle to your body. The more muscle around your joints, the more support your joints have, taking off pressure from your joints. 30 minutes of exercise like biking, pilates, swimming, or yoga is great. If you’re already experiencing some joint pain, then try some lower impact activities like walking. And make sure you’re doing a proper warm up and cool down to properly prepare your body for any heavy exercise!
Diet. Along with weight management and exercise is your diet! A Mediterranean diet with fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy fats is likely to benefit those who already have osteoarthritis, and is likely to prevent joint issues from getting worse. You may also want to consider adding supplements to help with your joint pain. Just make sure you’re discussing with your doctor to make sure supplements aren’t disrupting any other medication you may be taking.
Hydration. If you don’t stay hydrated, your body may start getting water from your cartilage, decreasing the amount of lubrication between your joints. Try to drink as much water as possible, as you are much less likely to get injured if you do. If possible, try to eliminate energy drinks, sodas, and other sugary beverages from your diet, as these may deliver extra toxins to your joints and cartilage that you do not need.
Smoking. Smoking is always a risk factor for any part of your health, and your joints are no exception. Since smoking causes inflammation throughout your body, it will make it very hard for you to heal and recover from any major injury involving your joints. Quitting smoking is your best chance at improving your joint health, and the rest of your health, too!