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Tips to Look After your Joints

Tips to Look After your Joints

1. Wear Suitable Shoes

It is important to wear shoes that provide cushioning, stability and comfort. Wearing incorrect or old footwear could lead to unnecessary joint strain and injury, such as ankle and knee strains and fractures. Your shoes can also affect your back and spine. If they don’t provide proper support, you can injure your lower back.

2. Stretch before and after exercise

Stretching serves many purposes; it helps lengthen your muscles, increasing flexibility and range of motion—the latter of which has been proven to prevent degenerative joint disorders such as arthritis. Stretching improves posture by strengthening the muscles in your back and chest to relieve unnecessary extra pressure on the joints, and lubricates the joints, which keeps them healthy. Stretching before and after exercise helps to avoid injury. Before stretching, ensure your muscles are warm, and don’t stretch beyond your limit as this can lead to hyperextension injury.

3. Balance low and high impact exercises

High—impact, weight bearing exercises such as running, dancing, skipping and climbing stairs help to build and strengthen the bones. If you’re always working out and focusing on high—impact exercises, they will take a toll on your joints over time. Combining high—impact and low—impact  exercises, such as cycling, water running or even walking, will help maintain bone strength, while giving your weight—bearing joints  a rest.

4. Healthy weight = healthy joints

Being overweight or obese adds extra pressure to your joints, particularly the load—bearing joints such as the knees or hips. Over time, weight and age factors play a significant role in the development of osteoarthritis and joint injury.

As soon as you start to experience pain with the movement of a joint such as the knee, immediately stop the movement. If you overdo it, you may hinder your improvement and risk fracture, dislocation or other serious joint injuries, which could upset your training routine.

5. Practice yoga or breathing techniques to reduce stress

If the body is stressed, it releases a hormone called “cortisol” which can drive down the body’s collagen production and lead to unhealthy joints. Yoga is a great low impact exercise that offers a whole-body workout, which helps to improve overall fitness, flexibility and range of motion.  By combining stretching and strengthening, yoga is a low impact discipline that protects the joints. It also protects the heart by training it to pump more blood per heartbeat, rather than training it to just pump faster, as per typical “aerobic” exercise.

6. Build muscle strength around your joints

Improving muscle strength and tone will help protect the joints from injury. Your knee joints for example are supported by muscles, which protect them from damage. As muscles weaken, which occurs when we stop exercising and also to a lesser extend as we age, impact forces increase, thereby increasing our risk of injury. Weakening muscles also diminish balance leading to poor posture and a heightened likelihood of joint injury through increased pressure on the joints due to imbalanced weight bearing. Strengthening muscles throughout the body, particularly those around the joints can help improve overall joint health.

7. Build your core

A strong core promotes better balance and lowers your risk of joint damage. Abdominal weakness can cause the pelvis or hips to tilt forward, which leads to poor posture and curvature of the spine, as well as pushing the knee joints inwards.

Professor Nigel Hope: FF Magazine Mar/Apr 15


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