All sorts of aches can sneak up on us as we get older – and joint stiffness has a nasty reputation for being particularly painful. After years of use, the cartilage which cushions the bones in our joints breaks down. When the bones rub together, it can lead to swelling, stiffness, and possibly even osteoarthritis. Here are ten ways to help ease joint pain – as well as protect joints from further injury.
The more you move, the less stiffness you’re bound to feel. If you sit for long periods at a desk, get up and walk around at least every half hour. While reading or watching TV, change positions frequently and get up to stretch during commercials.
Use knee and elbow pads
Protect your knees and elbows with pads, especially when skating or skiing. If you’re feeling joint pain as you play tennis or golf, elbow and knee braces can allow you to continue with the activities you love.
Shed a few pounds
Extra weight means additional stress on the knees, hips, and back – which leads to wear-and-tear on bone cartilage. Happily, for every pound of body weight you shed, you’ll remove four pounds of pressure from your knees.
Warm up — even before stretching
It’s absolutely essential to prepare your body before undergoing any kind of strenuous physical exercise. For swimming or walking, light arm and leg movements will gradually loosen up the ligaments and tendons between your joints. Warming the muscles will increase blood flow to the joints – resulting in less stiffness, increased muscle performance, and reduced chance of strains, sprains and injuries.
Choose low impact exercise
Running, jogging, and competitive sports can increase your risk of injury, cause extra wear to the joints, and exasperate any existing conditions you may ave. Choose exercises such as swimming, biking and walking, and select exercise equipment which caters to low impact workouts. The elliptical, rowing machines and light weight lifting are all good places to start.
Stronger muscles provide the joints with added support, which helps ease stress and reduce inflammation. Moving your joints through your full range of motion will help keep them flexible. If you live in a seniors community or nursing home with a physical therapist on staff, they may be able to recommend range-of-motion exercises which cater specifically to your unique needs.
Optimize your Diet
Fatty cold-water fish is high in omega-3s – which some studies have shown to help with inflammation and keep joints healthy. Mackerel and salmon are good sources of Omega-3s. Oh, and don’t forget to drink your milk! It contains the calcium and Vitamin D that keeps bones strong. Other great sources of calcium include leafy greens like broccoli, and even supplements.
This is a guest post, written by Alice Lucette, a Canadian blogger.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net