Healthy Joints at Any Age
When was the last time you thought about the health of your joints? If you’re under the age of 50, chances are it is not a topic that has crossed your mind very often. The awful truth is though, most of the damage to our joints is done in our younger years. By the time joint problems present, it may be hard to reverse the damage.
Ditch the heels
Wearing heels even as low as one and a half inches can cause knee strain and play a role in developing osteoarthritis later in life, according to one research study from the University of Virginia.
While exercise is definitely the best medicine when it comes to joints, excess training can have the opposite effect, so all things in moderation.
Have you found the number on your scales creeping up an extra kilo or two each year? While the weight gain may not be setting off alarm bells, excess weight can put pressure on your joints.
According to the John Hopkins Arthritis Centre overweight women are four times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis, and overweight men have five times the risk. Dropping even a few kilos can go a long way to easing the joint stress.
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia national chairman James Debenham says while we can’t control our genetics, a healthy lifestyle promotes healthy joints. “Diet and exercise are probably the two things that most significantly affect our joint health that we can have a positive influence over,” he says.
Increase your exercise
If a busy career and family life has seen your fitness regime slide, it’s time to get back on the horse. Ascend Physiotherapy physiotherapist Stacey De Rooy says start with gentle stretching and strengthening exercises.
“These strengthening exercises could include compound exercises such as squats, lunges and step ups,” she says. “As each of us have different needs and levels of fitness I would recommend seeing your physiotherapist or personal trainer as they can give you an exercise program specific for your needs.”
If you’re starting to experience some joint inflammation, the solution may be as simple as choosing the right foods. Eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fats can reduce the inflammation in your joints. The bad news is certain foods can make the situation worse.
James Debenham advises avoiding toxic food groups like sugar, as this plays a very important role in joint health.
James says building strong muscles is overwhelmingly the most important thing we can do to support our joints. “Muscles provide enormous protection for joints and whether an individual has joint problems is massively related to their strength, as is the recovery from joint injury and joint disease.”
Stacey says the best thing you can do for your joints is to exercise, but joint mobility is also vital. “The two key components to consider are joint mobility and strength. It is not only important to maintain joint mobility by regular stretching and foam rolling, but it is also very important to have good strength to support your joints,” the physiotherapist advises.
“For example, if you are a runner and run three times per week, I challenge you to add into your exercise routine 1-2 sessions per week of strengthening exercises focused on your gluteals, quadriceps and calves. I can guarantee you that not only will your joints love you for it, but your running will improve.”