Joint Health – How to Keep Your Joints Healthy and Prevent Future Problems

The human body is a marvel of engineering, but to keep it healthy and working at peak performance requires a bit of effort. Most people experience aches and pains from time to time, but these are often minor annoyances that don’t require medical attention. A few simple steps can help you keep your joints healthy and prevent future problems.

A joint is a connection between two bones that allows you to bend your elbows and knees, move your hips, turn your head and wave your fingers. Smooth tissue called cartilage and a lubricant called synovial fluid cushion the bones and allow them to move smoothly. Over time, being overweight or repetitive stress can wear down this cartilage and lead to deteriorated and painful joints. The best way to protect your joints is to keep them strong and healthy, which means strengthening the muscles around them.

To do this, include a variety of exercise in your routine. Exercises like walking and swimming strengthen all the muscles in your body, including those that support your joints. When your muscles are stronger, they’ll take more of the stress and strain off your joints.

Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after workouts to protect your joints. Having good form and using the proper equipment will also reduce your risk of injury. In addition, adding flexibility training like yoga to your routine can increase the mobility of your joints and improve your balance and coordination.

Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is another important factor in maintaining your joint health. A healthy weight, not smoking, getting plenty of sleep and managing stress can all help reduce inflammation in your body.

Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s healing process, but chronic inflammation can cause tissue damage and activate stress hormones that may contribute to cognitive decline over time. Anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can help with this. Try consuming more fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, green leafy vegetables and avocados, as well as foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and mackerel.

If you do have joint pain, be sure to use over-the-counter acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If these don’t help, speak with your provider about prescription options. Topical treatments, such as ointments and gels that you rub onto the skin over a painful area, can also be helpful.

Keeping your joints healthy and active can help you enjoy life more, even if you have pain or stiffness. With the right exercise, diet and lifestyle choices, you can keep your joints strong and flexible so they’ll last for years to come.