From Cleveland Clinic experts – PEO’s Educational Health Partner
If you’re like most people, you don’t think much about your joints until they start complaining. But your joints deserve attention long before they cause continuous discomfort. Prevention really is the best medicine. Here are five tips for safeguarding your joints as you age:
Smoking and tobacco use are risk factors for everything from cardiovascular problems to cancer. Smoking can hamper your joints, too. Because smoking increases inflammation throughout your body, it can make it harder for your body to recover and heal from an injury. Within eight hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal and the oxygen levels in your blood increase. If you’re thinking about quitting, plan ahead and seek support to increase your chances of success.
Replace energy drinks and soda with water
Water makes up about 80% of your body’s cartilage (the flexible, connective tissue that cushions your joints). If you don’t stay well-hydrated, your body will pull water from cartilage and other areas. This can wreak havoc on your joints. Replace soda and energy drinks with water. This will help deliver better hydration to your joints and heart. Not sure how much water you should consume? Listen to your body’s cues: When you feel thirsty, drink.
Don’t let extra pounds overtax your joints
Your joints are meant to sustain a certain amount of force. If you’re overweight, you’re likely putting more stress on your joints than you realize. Each additional 10 pounds of weight you carry adds 20 to 39 pounds of force to each knee. If your weight isn’t where you want it to be, enlist a physician’s or dietitian’s help in finding a healthy eating plan that works for you. Consider an approach like the Mediterranean diet, which includes a hearty mix of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and healthy fats. Regular exercise can also health you maintain healthy weight.
Warm up and cool down
People often go straight from work to the gym and get right on the treadmill before stretching their muscles and warming up their joints. Skipping your warm-up can put your joints at greater risk of strain and overloading. For best results, warm-up and cool-down exercises should last for about five minutes. Work with the same muscles you’ll use during exercise, but at a slower pace. Warming up is especially important as you age; older joints are often less resilient.
Listen to your body’s cues
Muscle soreness after exercise is one thing. Joint pain after exercise is another. If you get sore after exercise in a way that makes sense for the activity you did, and the soreness easily goes away, you’re probably OK. But if you develop joint pain, it’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. That’s when it’s time to see a sports medicine doctor. It may be something simple to correct, such as incorrect form. Or something more complex, such as early-onset osteoarthritis, may need to be addressed.
Cleveland Clinic Canada is dedicated to helping PEO members live healthier, more active lives. If you are experiencing muscle or joint pain, our sports health team can help. We have recently expanded and now offer care at two locations: downtown Toronto location (181 Bay Street) as well as midtown Toronto (150 Eglinton Avenue East) Both locations offer sports medicine, orthopaedic services, physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care and foot care. Our downtown location also offers preventive medicine including our Executive Health Program. If you need help or have questions, simply give Shayne at a call at 416.507.6761 or visit clevelandclinic.ca.