Various body movements are possible because of the articulation of two or three bones at the joints. Joints allow you to bend or rotate your hips, knees, elbows and perform all kinds of activities. To stay physically active and continue to do the things you love, it is essential to understand how your joints function and ways to keep them healthy.
The smooth movements that you can achieve at each joint can be attributed to a smooth and resilient tissue called the cartilage, which lines and protects the ends of each articulating bone. Synovial fluid lubricates this cartilage and further allows the bones to glide freely over each other during movement. Muscles, ligaments and other structures surround and support the joint. Age, injury, excessive physical stress, poor posture, and certain diseases such as arthritis can damage the cartilage and other supportive structures, compromising movement, causing joint pain and sometimes disability.
In order to maintain healthy joints, you can follow the below suggestions to protect your joints against damage and degeneration, reduce the progression of joint disease (arthritis) and maximize joint function.
- Healthy weight – Maintaining a healthy weight is essential as being overweight increases stress on weight-bearing joints including the knees, hips and back.
- Nutrition matters – A well-balanced diet nourishes your bones and muscles. Make sure you get plenty of calcium, protein, vitamin D and C; lean meats, seafood, nuts, beans, fruits, dairy and cereal are excellent sources. Your doctor may also prescribe supplements that will promote joint health.
- Exercise regularly – Aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up have been shown to reduce joint swelling. In cases of painful joints, you may find low impact activities, such as swimming and cycling easier to perform.
- Build muscle – Strengthening muscles that support the joint help it to bear more stress. Work on your core muscles, including your abdomen and back muscles, for better balance to help prevent falls.
- Protect yourself – Wearing recommended protective gear while performing sports and other activities can protect your joints from injury.
- Stay active – Staying active with hobbies or simple chores can also keep your joints healthy and flexible. Those with sedentary lifestyles or work routines are usually more prone to joint ailments. Take occasional breaks while at work and do not confine yourself to one position.
- Listen to your body – Be aware of your body’s limit. Do not push your exercises or sports activities to limits that could hurt or damage the joints and associated tissues.
These simple tips can go a long way in protecting and maintaining healthy joints!
Dr. Domb is a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. A noted pioneer in advanced new techniques in hip arthroscopy, he delivers innovative treatments for patients with hip injuries such as impingement and labral tears. Dr. Domb is also an expert in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee, adept in specialized techniques including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and all-inside ACL reconstruction.