6 Tips for Protecting and Strengthening Your Joints

man stretching on the beach

You probably won’t think about your joints until you start to suffer from problems associated with them. Nevertheless, they’re vital to the proper functioning of your body. Without properly working joints you’ll find just getting around and running through your normal daily routine to be a nightmare. 

To help avoid a future problem with your joints, here are six tips to help either strengthen or protect them.

Make the Connection Between Weight and Your Knee Health

While there are different things that can impact knee joint performance, the amount of weight bearing down on each knee joint is a key factor in how well they perform. 

To stay physically active for longer, it’s necessary to treat your knees well. This includes respecting what they go through at different weight levels too. If you’re currently overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 and below 30, then you’re officially overweight. This can be checked using our BMI calculator

With more weight on your knees, the joints come under greater stress. Sometimes, wearing a knee brace for larger people provides the extra support needed for your knees if you’re feeling pain. However, losing weight through an effective diet and exercise is the best option. 

Nutrition For Healthy Joints

Poor nutrition for an extended time can lead to weakness in one or more joints. They’ll become weaker and be at greater risk of an injury too. 

Just as your bones benefit from calcium and Vitamin D, your joints benefit from extra care too. One of the better things to consume is bone broth. It’s an age-old remedy where boiling up animal bones provides glucosamine, gelatin, and other nutrients when consuming the broth. It’s true that the various benefits of bone broth aren’t always easy to obtain if you don’t spend much time in the kitchen due to a hectic life. In which case, a bone broth protein supplement is the way to go. 

Lower (or Virtually Eliminate) the Impact Damage of Exercising

Running on concrete paths around the local park might seem like a good idea, but it increases the amount of impact damage to your joints. Every jarring footfall that happens – especially on a faster run as you become fitter – is especially harmful to your ankles, knees, elbows and elsewhere on your body too.

Here are some suggestions to reduce the impact on your joints when exercising:

  1. Swap out your regular sneakers for a specialized pair of running shoes to provide proper support when walking or running. 
  2. Actively look for ways to modify exercises to make them less impactful (running on grass in the park instead of on the pathway, for example).
  3. Choose sports that support your joints, such as tennis played on grass, not clay, courts
  4. Avoid sports that involve too many abrupt stops, twisting, turning or repetitive movements
  5. Take up ‘weightless sports’ like swimming, or activities like yoga.

Improve Your Range of Motion

Being flexible and able to move freely is indicative of cooperative joints. By contrast, people afflicted with arthritis suffer from a limited range of movement. Read our guide to Stretching For Runners.

Avoid living a sedentary life or one where some joints receive far less use than others. This quickly leads to joints that lack lubrication and have seized up. At which time, getting the joint back into comfortable working order is a painful, often prolonged process. 

Set up a routine to regularly put all your joints through their maximum range of motion. If you think that you’ll forget, then add a reminder to your calendar to prompt you at a convenient day and time. Then set about bending, rotating and fully extending your body to help all your joints work towards total functionality. Note any joints that seem to be having trouble and work on them gradually, and repeatedly, in the days that follow to loosen them back up. 

Adding Muscle to Allow Joints to Strengthen

Joints are often supported by surrounding or complementary fibrous muscles. The muscles take much of the initial strain and allow the limbs to move and adjust. This process of active support often comes before the joint, be it an elbow or a knee, starts moving in sympathy to complete an expected movement. 

It is genuinely difficult to strengthen your joints (outside of active, intentional range of motion exercises) without proper musculature support. However, the flipside to that coin is with adequate muscle support, joints can get stronger when put through their paces. Therefore, once the legs are strong enough, the knee joint can be persuaded to develop and provide greater support too. The same applies to the elbows as well. Regular weight training is a great way to keep your joints strong and supple, and even better for joints is a regular yoga workout.

Ensure Your Joints are Well Lubricated

Just like with a car’s engine, without sufficient lubrication, things tend to go wrong. And the same is true of your joints too. The importance of lubrication which goes over the cartilage is that it smooths out movements and prevents the unnecessary pain that comes from different parts of the joint rubbing together. 

There is much you can do to ensure there’s enough lubrication in your joints to maintain their strength and flexibility. Here are a few items to add to your diet or supplements:

  • Calcium for strength and bone mineralization to support the bones between the joints
  • Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil for lubrication
  • Chondroitin and Glucosamine for joint maintenance
  • Fish or nuts high in Omega 3’s are especially good for lubrication
  • Avocados are another source of healthy oils

With joint care a prime concern, it’s vital to not lead a sedentary existence. Even with the best will in the world and a healthy diet, the lack of active use of all your joints will be a sticking point that will cause ongoing problems. However, when using every joint purposely to prevent them from seizing up, supplementing correctly, and ensuring enough joint lubrication through a sensible diet, it’s possible to enjoy healthier joints most of your life. Lastly, the older you get, the more important it is to step away from impact damaging exercises by choosing alternative activities like swimming instead.

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