While thinking about your fitness regime, you often tend to overlook a crucial area- the joints. They primarily guide movement of your body, and it’s important to look after them. Here are 5 ways to take care of your joints:
Maintain a healthy weight
Chartered physiotherapist Laura Jamieson explains that your muscles need to be stronger to facilitate movement, because the impact on your joints increases with your weight. Your muscle-mass percentage needs to be higher than your body-fat percentage to be able to move well.
“For every 0.5kg (1lb) lost, we reduce the weight going through the knee joint at each step by 2kg (4.5lb),” says Sue Baic, a dietician. Osteoarthritis symptoms tend to worsen when excess body fat accumulates around your abdomen and causes inflammation.
The right diet
“Some recent research has suggested that diets high in saturated fat – found in fatty meats and meat products, full-fat dairy, cakes, biscuits, butter and coconut oil – can weaken the cartilage in the knee and hip so that it is more prone to damage and loss of cushioning,” says Baic.
She suggests going for a Mediterranean diet, which has an abundance of healthy elements. In addition to being rich in vitamins and minerals owing to fruits, nuts, wholegrains among others, Mediterranean food has high levels of monosaturated (healthy) fats, found in olive oil. However, to keep up with the necessary amounts of vitamin D required for maintaining bones, it’s advisable to include certain fish in your diet.
“A common misconception is that people think exercise will aggravate joint pain,” says Giles Stafford, a consultant orthopaedic hip surgeon at the Wellington Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK.
Stretching is a good way to relieve stiffness. Body weight exercises like lunges, squats, as well as light dumbbell exercises like bicep curls are ideal keep your joints healthy. Building your muscle strength also helps in keeping hip problems at bay.
Keep changing your routine
Including variety in your exercise regime is the way to go. Strength training should include a blend of impact and low-impact cardio. Low impact cardio exercises include walking, cycling, swimming among other interesting options. Yoga can also be effective when combined with other workouts.
However, over-stretching can be dangerous. Stafford says, “It can take the joint past its natural physiological range, which can cause damage to the joint and surrounding structures.”
A good posture is essential
Maintaining a good posture supports your spine and reduces fatigue. Your back is easily one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to joint pain. Jamieson says, “You want to be very careful of your back particularly: there is no surgery that will replace your discs or spine yet.”
People who have a desk job in particular, need to be careful about sitting in the correct way. Avoid common posture mistakes while standing, lifting goods, or even sleeping to reduce the risk of inviting joint pain.