05 Dec A Complete Guide to Bone and Joint Health
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “Bone and joint …are the leading cause of disability in the United States.” Problems such osteoporosis and and arthritis are very painful, lead to even more health problems, and become more prevalent as we age. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to reduce your risk of developing these illnesses.
Keep your weight in check. People who are overweight experience more pain in the knees, hips and back. These joints are known as weight bearing joints because they carry most of a human being’s body weight. Too much weights puts a lot of undue strain on these joints with every pound gained equalling 4lbs in pressure on the knees. If you take your weight and multiply it by four, that’s how many pounds of pressure are on your knees. That also means losing 10lbs reduces the pressure on your knees by 40 lbs.
Do weight bearing exercises. Weight bearing exercises build bone mass and maintaining bone density by forcing your body to work against gravity. A few of these activities include walking, hiking, jogging, tennis, basketball, and dancing.
Low impact exercises. If your joints hurt, incorporate low impact exercises into your routine. Activities like swimming and cycling are not considered weight bearing exercises because the joints are not bearing the full weight of the body. These activities along with using elliptical training machines and doing low-impact aerobics provide a good cardio workout without putting undue pressure on the joints.
Do weight training exercises. Lifting weights and other weight resistance exercises help build muscle. Keeping your muscles and ligaments strong will protect your joints by helping them pick up the slack and carry the weight for your joint.
Strengthen your core. The muscles in the abdominals are responsible for taking the strain off your spine. Strengthening your core will lead to better balance and posture. Try taking a pilates or yoga class. Doing stretches, balance training exercises, Tai Chi or yoga can help prevent injuries due to falls and help preserve your range of motion.
Allow your body time to recover. Set aside a one day every week where you don’t do any physical activity. This will help prevent overuse injuries by giving your body the chance to repair itself.
Don’t overdo it. It’s normal to experience a little soreness when beginning a new exercise routine, but doing too much too fast can cause serious injuries. Go slow and modify your exercises if they cause pain. Have a trainer or physical therapist help you with your modifications. They can help craft a personalized training plan based on your needs and goals. If you experience sharp joint pain, severe swelling, soreness that last for more than a few days, make an appointment with your doctor as these symptoms can indicate a serious injury.
Use ice! If you’re joints are sore or inflamed, use ice to dull the pain and reduce the swelling. Take a cold pack or a zip seal bag filled with ice and wrapped in a towel, and apply it to the painful area for no more than 20 minutes. If you don’t have cold pack or ice, wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel.
Wear protective gear. Protect your joints while exercising by wearing elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guard and helmets. These items not only protect your joints from injuries that lead to long term joint problems, they also help take the pressure off your joints while exercising.
Don’t be still. Less movement equals stiff joints.Staying in one position for too long every day can lead to a high risk of joint pain. If you work at a desk all day, change positions, take frequent breaks, stretch, go for a walk, or just stand up every time your answer the phone.
Eat a calcium rich diet. Calcium is a mineral that is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Milk, yogurt, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, figs and fortified soy or almond milk are all great sources of calcium.
Make sure you get enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps us absorb the calcium from our food. The primary source of Vitamin D is the sun. We absorb it through our skin when we are out in the sunlight, so make sure you’re spending plenty of time outside. If your schedule prevents you from getting enough sunlight, be sure to buy foods and dairy products that are fortified with Vitamin D.
Vitamin C can help give your joints a boost by repairing the cartilage tissue damaged by everyday use. Oranges, watermelon, berries, pineapples, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are all excellent sources of Vitamin C.
Wear proper footwear. With athletic or tennis shoes, make sure there is enough room for the toes, they have good arch support, and that there is plenty cushion under the fall of the foot. Ladies, just say no to the heels. Women who wear high heels are 10 times more likely to develop joint problem. If you insist on heels, make them no more than three inches tall.
Stop smoking! Smoking has been shown to cause bone depletion along with a number of different health problems including lung, mouth, throat, kidney, and blood cancer, infertility, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Drink alcohol in moderation. People who drink a lot of alcohol are more likely to have broken or brittle bone because alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrient. Limit yourself to less than three a day, and your bones will thank you for it.
Drink less caffeine. Studies have shown that too much caffeine will cause bones to lose their calcium and become weaker. An occasional cup of coffee is okay, but if you’re drinking the coffee, then a can of soda, and then a glass tea, you might have a problem. Try limiting yourself to 300 milligrams of caffeine a day by subsitingin caffeinated drinks with water, herbal teas, or fruit juices.
Finally if you’re concerned about your bone health, talk to your doctor about it. Make a list of questions that your have about your bone health. Ask if you need to do a bone density test, and about any other tests you may need. Ask about medications that help prevent bone loss and the option of surgery if your are in chronic pain. Develop a plan of action with your doctor to help protect your bones and joints.