Tips for stronger joints

Have you ever truly considered the importance of your joints? Sure, they help connect one bone to the next and you can will them to propel you forward. But, how important are they really?

Together, your joints, bones and muscles work together to help you move. Joints make bending, twisting, walking and other activities possible. Your joints are important, and if you don’t care for them, arthritis can develop and make movement increasingly difficult.

Reduce your weight. Being overweight can increase the pressure on your joints. Healthy eating and regular exercise are essential to maintaining healthy joints. As you work out, consider selecting low-impact exercises such as biking, swimming or walking to reduce the strain on your joints. You should also consider incorporating muscle-strengthening exercises into your routine, as strong muscles help support your joints.

Choose calcium. Not only does calcium help strengthen your bones, it helps keep your joints healthy, too. Upping your calcium intake will help stave off osteoarthritis that is common in women and older adults. Make sure you consume plenty of broccoli, kale, fortified orange juice and yogurt.

Quit smoking. Cigarette smoke decreases your bone mass, weakening your joints. Weak bones increase your risk for an injury. Additionally, smoking increases inflammation in your body. Added inflammation can create achy joints.

Start stretching. Most people stretch pre- or post-workout. Stretching should be incorporated into your daily routine. Take breaks throughout the day to keep your body limber and joints bending smoothly. You can do some basic stretches at your desk or take a yoga or Pilates class that incorporates stretching into the exercises.

Get a massage. Every once in a while it’s good to release built-up muscle tension. Try getting a massage to loosen up your muscles and joints, leaving you feeling refreshed. You can ask a loved one to give you a massage or opt to pay for professional services.

If you take the time to treat your joints well, they’ll thank you with years of use and activity. If your joints begin to ache, try applying heat or ice to ease the pain. If the pain doesn’t subside, consider scheduling an appointment with your physician to determine if there are more serious issues.

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