5 Tips for Improved Joint Health

You might not devote much time to learning how to properly care for your knees or shoulders – until something goes wrong. However, one injury or the slow encroach of arthritis can leave you in a world of hurt.

It’s far better to prevent an injury than to rehabilitate, and the same healthy habits work for both. Here are five tips for improved joint health.

1. Keep Moving

You might have heard people say, “sitting is the new smoking.” While remaining sedentary won’t introduce new toxins into your body’s cells, it can do considerable damage. Those with sedentary lifestyles run higher risks of becoming overweight or developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.

Likewise, a sedentary lifestyle puts undue pressure on your joints. While this logic might sound counterintuitive at first, think about it. Exercise develops your muscles, ligaments, and tendons – tissues that help support your joints, especially if you lose cartilage due to arthritis. Without these helpers, your joints absorb more of the impact when you do move, deteriorating them more quickly.

Fortunately, you can perform moves such as seated leg extensions without a gym membership by utilizing your body’s natural resistance. You can also pick up inexpensive resistance bands and an inflatable ball for wall squats for less than $50 at many retailers.

Weight-bearing exercises are best for developing the muscles around your joints to improve mobility. However, please don’t feel left out in the cold if you already have advanced arthritis or another health condition that makes walking on a treadmill a study in torture.

Instead, take to the water. Submerging yourself to chest level supports roughly 80% of your body’s weight, minimizing discomfort on your joints. The liquid also acts as natural resistance, helping tone muscle without lifting heavy weights.

2. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

If you have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis contributing to your joint health woes, you might recognize that certain foods trigger more severe flares. However, everything you eat affects your body chemistry, with some substances increasing inflammation more than others. The right combinations of nutrients can fight joint swelling and pain.

What should you eat? Strive for a plant-based diet rich in lean proteins. Nuts, seeds, and beans are great vegan sources, while eggs and hard cheeses delight vegetarians. Fish and chicken round out the protein portrait for the carnivorous set. However, you should steer clear of red and processed meats that increase inflammation.

When it comes to plant-based foods, strive to “eat the rainbow” by selecting fruits and vegetables in varying hues. Doing so ensures you get a sufficient intake of various phytonutrients critical to human health.

Are there any foods you should leave off your plate? White flour is often a nightmare, with the chemical byproduct alloxan combined with quick-absorbing sugars to create a diabetic nightmare. In general, you should avoid any ultra-processed foods with unrecognizable additives, sugar, and salt.

Although food scientists designed many of today’s vegetable oils for their health benefits, some people find certain types increase their inflammation. Play around to see what works – and doesn’t – for you.

3. Maintain Your Flexibility

If you have a chronic illness resulting in pain that limits your mobility, your doctor has probably suggested trying yoga. This ancient practice has clear mental and physical health benefits. However, it won’t help you regrow lost cartilage.

What it can do is allow your joints to move freely into various positions without injuring the tissues surrounding them. It also helps to keep your muscles, ligaments, and tendons strong and pliable to support increased movement demands without fatigue or pain.

Fortunately, you don’t need an hour and a half of Ashtanga each day to maintain joint health and mobility. Just 15 minutes of stretching in the morning and another at night before you retire are sufficient, although you should always perform cooldown flexibility exercises after a workout.

4. Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

Tragically, some people turn to alcohol to self-medicate their pain if they have untreated arthritis or another condition causing joint pain, like fibromyalgia. The problem gets worse in the United States, thanks to their unique for-profit health model that prices many out of care.

Unfortunately, too many people don’t realize that while this behavior may temporarily mask symptoms, it sends them roaring back with a vengeance when they get sober.

For some people, alcohol is a pro-inflammatory substance and they may notice achier joints the morning after one too many. Alcohol is also high in calories, contributing to weight gain that puts excess pressure on joints. Finally, drinking with certain medications can damage your liver and increase gastrointestinal bleeding risks.

The chemicals in cigarettes directly affect your connective tissues, making your arthritis worse. Even folks with pesky old-age-related osteoarthritis show more significant cartilage loss among tobacco users. It also ups your risk of complications if you undergo surgery to replace that knee.

5. Get the Right Support

A solid support system is imperative for your mental health if you have chronic joint pain. However, the assistance you need might not be psychological. Still, it doesn’t hurt to nurture your closest relationships so that you have people to lean on when necessary.

The right support can significantly decrease daily pain and improve overall joint health. For example, some small studies have shown reduced inflammation and faster healing times from wearing copper-infused compression garments. However, the scientific evidence for such claims continues to undergo serious scrutiny. To date, there have not been enough large-scale studies to provide sufficient proof of such claims.

However, the right knee, ankle, or wrist brace can support creaky joints, ease pressure and prevent further damage. Likewise, mobility aids like walkers and crutches can help you maneuver if severe joint pain keeps you seated too long each day.

Please don’t let pride prevent you from using the tools you need to lead an active and engaged life. The more you keep moving, the better your health outcomes are likely to be.

Tips for Improved Joint Health

You might not pay your knees or ankles much heed until one of them goes out of commission and causes you mobility issues and pain. It’s far better to prevent joint damage than to recover from injury.

Heed the tips above for improved joint health. You’ll enjoy better mobility and wring more delight out of each passing day.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 25, 2023

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