Joints play vital roles in the human body, forming the connections between bones and facilitating movement. Damage to the joints can be especially painful, and that damage may result from conditions such as osteoarthritis or gout.
While not all joint pain is debilitating, the discomfort of joint pain is such that it’s wise for adults to take steps to protect their joints with the hope of preventing joint pain down the road. Recognizing that joint pain can negatively affect quality of life, the Arthritis Foundation offers the following joint protection tips to men and women.
• Forgo fashion with regard to footwear. When women choose their footwear, fashion should not be their top priority. According to the Arthritis Foundation, three-inch heels stress the feet seven times more than one-inch heels and heels put additional stress on knees, possibly increasing women’s risk for osteoarthritis. Though heels may be fashionable, the risk of developing joint pain is not worth making the fashion statement.
• Get some green in your diet. A healthy diet pays numerous dividends, but many may not know that a healthy diet can help prevent joint pain. Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and parsley are high in calcium and can reduce age-related bone loss while also slowing cartilage destruction.
• Shed those extra pounds. If you start including more healthy vegetables in your diet, you might just start to lose a little weight as well. Such weight loss also can help your joints, as the AF notes that every extra pound a person gains puts four times the stress on his or her knees. The AF also notes that research has shown that losing as little as 11 pounds can reduce a person’s risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent.
• Hit the pool. Swimming is a great full-body workout and can be especially helpful to the joints. The buoyancy of water supports the body’s weight, reducing stress on the joints and minimizing pain as a result. If possible, swimmers already experiencing pain should swim in heated pools, which can help relieve pain. While you can still benefit from swimming in pools with colder temperatures, cold water may not soothe the joints like warm water can.
• Take breaks at work. Many people develop joint pain thanks to their jobs. If you spend all day sitting at a desk or standing on your feet, try to find a greater balance between the two. Joints can grow stiff from sitting all day, while standing throughout your work day can stress the joints. Take a short break every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around if you spend most of your day at a desk. If you stand a lot at your job, stop to sit down for a few minutes once every half hour.
Joint pain and aging do not have to go hand in hand. More information about joint paint is available at www.arthritis.org.