Your joints take a lot throughout your life. As the connector between your bones that prevents them from rubbing together, they enable us to bend and twist. Joints can get worn down over time, which can lead to chronic pain like arthritis.
Joint Changes with Age
First, it’s important to understand how your joints change as you age. For women, they can start to show signs of joint pain due to aging after age 50, while men are likely to see it before age 45.
The connective tissue and cartilage, the cushioning between the joints, can thin down over time. The less there is, the more the bones will grind against each other, causing osteoarthritis.
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass. Rather than muscles absorbing the impact of daily life, the joints will get it, causing joint damage and cartilage erosion.
It’s wise to take preventative measures early on to protect your joints and stave off joint pain later in life. While you can’t bring back what you’ve already lost, there are things you can do to prevent or control the onset of joint pain.
Here are 6 ways to protect your joints as you age and avoid joint pain.
Bad posture can really put your joints at risk. Slouching while sitting or standing puts pressure on the joints in the wrong places. Doing so for long periods of time everyday—such as at work—can really do damage to your joints. If you can’t keep your spine straight the whole time, start by keeping it straight for a few minutes, then relax.
Lifting heavy objects with your back rather than from your legs is another way to cause joint damage. Stretch your muscles out before doing heavy lifting and don’t strain yourself.
Physical activity keeps your joints moving and agile. Inactivity can cause joints to become stiff, making even the most common movements painful. Low-impact exercises such as biking, walking and swimming are great ways to keep your joints lubricated. Lifting is another great exercise. It builds up the muscles, which support the joints. Just be careful to start with only a few repetitions and a lighter weight until you build up stamina.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
The less you weigh, the less pressure there is on your joints. Weight adds stress to the joints, especially the knees and lower back. Remember, your joints are only meant to carry a certain weight for your frame, and putting more weight on them than that can cause inflammation.
Eat the Right Foods
Weight loss goes hand in hand with the right diet. There are plenty of foods that have anti-inflammation properties, yet still taste great. Leafy greens and berries are just some of the natural choices to help keep joint pain at bay. The more you bulk up on a healthy diet, the more likely you are to also lose weight, so it does you a great service to pay attention to what you eat.
Drink Lots of Water
Sugary drinks and alcohol can dehydrate you, which can hurt your joints. Stay hydrated with plenty of water; have it on hand whenever you’re out and about, and make sure to drink extra when you’re exercising to replenish what you lose. If you’re not hydrated enough, your body will pull water from cartilage, as well as other areas, to hydrate itself. Whenever you can, replace other drinks with water to give your joints the hydration they need to be healthy.
Smoking increases inflammation, which can cause joint pain. It also alters the way the brain processes pain, causing individuals to feel less pain at first and making smokers less aware of the pain they’re experiencing until the effects wear off. If you already suffer from a condition like osteoarthritis, you’re likely making your pain worse by smoking. While quitting isn’t easy, work with your health care provider to take steps towards weaning off cigarettes and you’ll soon start to notice fewer, less painful bouts of joint pain.
Do you want to improve your joint health and lessen your joint pain? Learn more about how exercise can help you by downloading our guide today.