Kittle: Protect, preserve your joints

Find a happy median between exercise and not abusing your joints.

What are joints and how can you protect and preserve them?

Joints are the places where our bones meet, made up of a number of different parts that all work together so that we can bend, stretch, twist and turn within certain limits.

The ends of your bones are covered in a thin layer of cartilage.

This cushions the joint and helps to spread the load evenly when you put pressure on it.

Over time, our joints naturally deteriorate so it’s important to take care of your body and protect your joints to maximize their use and function for as long as possible.

By following some of the tips outlined below, we can individually work to minimize the effects of wear and tear.

How is your posture?

By maintaining good posture your muscles and skeletal system work together to put less strain on your joints.

From your head to your toes imagine a string running through your body like a marionette. Stand tall and straight.

Your back should be straight, chin parallel to the ground, shoulders back, and abdominals tight.

Consider the chairs you sit in. You don’t want your chair to be too low.

The higher it is the less you have to bend your knees and hips to get in and out of it.

Find a balance of work and rest to avoid undue strain and underuse. You want to be careful not to put undue strain on your joints, yet at the same time if you sit too long your joints will stiffen up.

Be sure to move around throughout the day to keep limber and when you’re sitting get up at least once an hour to stretch and change positions.

Eating healthy foods helps keep your weight under control and less weight means less strain on your joints. Every extra five pounds of weight on your body is equal to 20 extra pounds on your joints.

When doing physical work be mindful of the joints that are working.

Try relying on your larger joints to do more of the work and be careful when lifting something from the ground to bend using your hips and knees to protect your back.

Also, use tools or instruments to aid in daily activities and give your joints a rest.

As much as we don’t like to acknowledge the fact that we’re getting older some activities we used to engage in may not be appropriate any longer.

Considering lower impact activities and exercises and hiring help for difficult yard or housework is sensible for safety and your future well-being.

Planning how you go about accomplishing your daily activities goes a long way in protecting your joints.

The “joint-smart” approach is to back off if your joints start reacting badly to a certain activity.

It’s best to take a break than power through the activity and potentially hurt yourself. Plan and pace your day and try not to overestimate how much your joints can handle.

Stretching is important to keep the range of motion around your joints. Daily stretching before and after exercise will help keep you limber, maintain mobility and decrease your risk of injury to your joints.

Strength training is also very important in preserving joint strength, stability and guidance through range of motion.

In order to have the strongest possible joints you need to engage in weight-bearing exercise to build muscle and bone.

Another benefit of weight-bearing exercise is that it will help you to lose weight by burning a higher rate of calories after you work out.

Always start slow with light weights and build up gradually. Having the guidance of a personal trainer to show you how to properly perform exercises is also important in protecting your joints and preventing injury.

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