How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Do you jump out of bed ready to take on the day, or do you feel stuck like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz? If your knees or fingers feel stiff or achy, your joints may be trying to send you a message.
Typical joints consist of bones covered in a cushion of articular cartilage and synovial fluid that acts as a lubricant. This arrangement allows for smooth conduction of the joint through its whole range of motion. Pain in your joints is typically caused by overexertion or damage to the joint, and tends to occur more as we age. If the pain and discomfort gets worse over time – this might be a sign of joint damage.
Joint health is important because it’s closely related to our overall health. Pain in our joints can limit our mobility and interfere with almost every aspect of our lives including being active, enjoying time with family, and even performing everyday tasks.
What are the challenges?
There are many different problems that can affect the joints. Pain and discomfort may just be a sign that you overdid it last weekend, but it may also be the start of something bigger.
Arthritis, which simply means “inflammation of the joints,” is the number one cause of disability in the United States. There are two general types of arthritis:
- Osteoarthritisis considered wear and tear and typically occurs as we age.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can strike at any age.
What these conditions share is that the inflammation in the joint causes damage to the cartilage. If left unchecked, this damage can lead to the destruction of the cartilage and even cause bone to rub against bone.
What can I do?
Joint health really depends on the health of the cartilage surrounding the joints and there are many things you can do to help protect your joints for a lifetime.
- Exercise: The more active a person stays, the healthier their joints. Any exercise where you are moving your joints works including walking, running, golf, tennis, or others. If you already have joint issues, consider exercises that don’t put pressure on the joints such as cycling or swimming.
- Don’t sit still:Less movement means more stiffness for your joints. So if you sit all day, get up and get moving. Change positions frequently. Take frequent breaks at work and stretch or go for a short walk. Try taking phone calls while standing or go talk to the person instead of sending an e-mail.
- Stretch every day: Stretching increases a joints’ range of motion. The more joints move, the more the cartilage gets nourished by the joint fluid.
Build Muscles: Strong muscles support and protect your joint’s, so it is key to maintain muscle mass as you age. Consider weight training to help build muscle and keep existing muscles and surrounding ligaments strong.
Maintain healthy weight: Each extra pound of body weight puts around four times the pressure on your knees when you are walking. If you remove 10 pounds from your body, you have just taken away 40 pounds of pressure off your knees when you are walking and up to 70 pounds when you are climbing stairs.
Ice: If you exercise or overdo it, consider using ice as a preventative. It not only helps reduce inflammation, but can also help with pain. It is best to use ice for only 15-20 minutes at a time, but you can repeat every hour.
- Glucosamine hydrochloride:The cartilage in your joints is primarily made up of a nutrient called glucosamine. Taking glucosamine as a supplement may aid in maintaining healthy joints.
- Boswellia serrata:Boswellia is an herb that has been used for more than a thousand years to help maintain joint health. A specific extract of boswellia called 3-o-acetyl-11-keto-b-boswellic acid (AKBA) was shown in a recent study to improve joint comfort in less than a week.
- Omega-3s: Studies suggest that use of omega-3 oils may reduce morning stiffness, discomfort, and need medications. Consume fish at least two- times a week, or consider 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams a day of a good fish oil supplement.
Your joints have to last a lifetime and the health of your joints is closely related to your overall health. You can help your joints be their best by supporting them with healthy lifestyle choices and good nutrition.