Support healthy joints with these tips
January 4, 2023
Our joints keep us moving. Whether we’re walking, running, dancing, climbing stairs or even sitting and typing, our joints are at work giving us the stability we need as we move smoothly through life.
Over the years, our joints are constantly in use. That's why it's especially important to support joint health as you age.
A joint is where two or more bones in our bodies meet. They are made up of a network containing bones, cartilage, joint fluid, muscles, ligaments and tendons. All those pieces work together to give us the range of motion our bodies need to function properly. In healthy joints, the ends of bones are encased in smooth cartilage, which is protected by a lining that produces a fluid to protect the cartilage, muscle and connective tissues.
Some joints, like those in the skull, are fixed and don’t move. Others are mobile, providing support to all of our moving parts. Our bodies have ball-and-socket joints that move in multiple directions (hip, shoulder), hinge joints that only bend and straighten (fingers, knee), pivot joints with limited rotation (neck) and ellipsoidal joints that allow all movement except pivots (wrist).
So, how do we support our joint health? There are plenty of ways.
Exercise is a great way to support your joint health. It helps strengthen muscles around your joints, increases flexibility, helps maintain bone strength and improves balance, among several other benefits.
A regular exercise routine of 150 minutes of physical activity supported with regular muscle strengthening each week is ideal, but even moderate exercise can help. Consider low-impact exercises such as swimming or biking, and don’t forget to warm up first and include plenty of stretching.
Yes, we just suggested that you exercise regularly, but this is more than that. Think about how you feel when you wake up in the morning or when you’ve been hunkered down in front of your computer or work station for several hours lost in a project.
You feel like stretching right now just thinking about it, right? You may have heard that “motion is lotion.” Moving around frequently to avoid staying in one position for too long can help avoid stiff joints. If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, try to get up every 15 minutes to a half hour to get things moving. Good posture can help avoid added stress to your joints, too.
There are countless reasons why you should not smoke. The fact that smoking negatively affects your bones and joints is one of them.
Being overweight or underweight will put additional stress on your joints. Extra pounds mean more work for your joints. Being underweight means less muscle to help your joints do their job.
A healthy weight will look different for each person and each person’s joints should be designed to handle that healthy weight.
Studies show that a healthy diet, including a whole-foods, plant-based diet, supports joint health. That could mean following the clean eating trend or the Mediterranean diet. Anything that focuses on minimally processed foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
Two of the most important nutrients for joint health are glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine is a key ingredient in the materials that provide cushion between our bones. It’s one of the body’s naturally occurring amino sugars.
Chondroitin is a substance that also occurs naturally in the connective tissues of both people and animals. While our bodies naturally produce both glucosamine and chondroitin, we produce less of these substances as we age.
Foods we eat regularly eat are not good sources of glucosamine or chondroitin. That’s why joint health supplements can be a big help in getting what our bodies need. Many also have vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that also supports joint health.
As we said, your joints are where two bones come together, so strong bones are important to supporting healthy joints.
Start with a well-balanced diet that maximizes the nutrients your bones need: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and zinc. That means dairy products, eggs, fatty fish, dark green leafy vegetables like kale, legumes, nuts and shellfish. Adding regular weight-bearing activity to your exercise routine is also important.
These seven tips should be a great start for those looking to support joint health for motion and flexibility. Want to learn more? Check out these Nutrilite™ supplements to support bone and joint health.
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