6 Steps Towards Healthier Joints
26th May, 2020
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017-2018, a survey showed that one in seven Australians suffered from joint pain. Taking care of your joints and keeping them healthy is the best way to keep mobile and active as we age. There are plenty of ways to keep your joints healthy, here are just a few tips.
It’s no secret that the first step to a healthy body is a good diet, this is especially true for your joints. While there is no miracle diet for joints, there are many delicious foods, full of healthy nutrients which can help ease inflammation. Try incorporating more of these foods into your diet:
- Omega-3 fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines
- Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds or ground linseeds
- Colourful fruit and vegetables – the more colours, the more beneficial nutrients
- Green leafy vegetables, avocadoes and olives (including olive oil)
- Avoid fried foods, margarine and processed foods, these foods are not conducive to good health, let alone healthy joints!
Maintain a healthy weight
It makes sense that if we keep a healthy weight our joints will ultimately benefit. Carrying excess weight puts further pressure on our joints, particularly weight bearing joints such as knees. Keeping a healthy weight benefits not only our joints but also our entire body and mind.
Often when people experience joint pain, they tend to stop exercising or moving as much as before due to the pain or discomfort. Joints are meant to move and gentle exercise has been shown to reduce joint pain, improve flexibility and keep your weight down. It’s also important to keep exercising to maintain good muscle tone. Strong muscles help to support bones and take the strain off joints.
The type of exercise that you choose is important, it will depend on which joints are affected, however, keep it low impact and know your limits. You don’t need to be the fastest runner or swimmer, there’s no medal for who can endure the most pain! Tailor your exercises to your needs, generally low impact exercises are gentle and won’t overwhelm you. Try aqua aerobics, cycling, yoga or simply walking the dog. Take it easy, only you know what your body can handle and it’s always a good idea to speak to a health professional such as a physiotherapist for a more personalised exercise program if you need some guidance.
Watch your posture
Be mindful of how you are holding yourself. When part of us hurts, we tend to compensate by using other parts of our body to help out. This can lead to further joint or muscle pain, sometimes in another part of the body! That’s the last thing anybody wants!
When you are walking, keep your shoulders back, when you are sitting, check that you aren’t slouching and when you are resting, ensure that your neck is supported with the right pillow. Muscle tone is important, particularly core strength. When your core is strong, your back is supported and your balance is improved, lessening the likelihood of injury.
Be kind to yourself
If you can, treat yourself to a gentle massage occasionally or seek some professional advice on learning self-massage. Sometimes a long soak in a warm bath can help ease away any stiffness, take a good book with you and enjoy a little time in your own company.
Use it or lose it
We’ve all heard it a million times, the old phrase, “use it or lose it” but looking after and protecting our joints now, will pay off in the future. Joints that are under used, tend to become stiff and inflexible, limiting mobility and activities that were once enjoyed. The most important thing to remember is to keep moving, eat well and enjoy better mobility in the later years.