Looking after your joint health certainly becomes a priority as we age. Joints are crucial to our mobility and if they start to become stiff and sore it’s very difficult to maintain our routines and keep active. The human body has an amazing capacity to repair itself, however, our joints often need extra love and care.
A joint is a connection between two bones in our body. Joints and their supporting structures allow you to bend your elbows and knees, bend your back, move your hips, turn your head and even move your fingers.
Fortunately, taking steps to protect our joints now can reduce the chances of needing to replace them later in life. Here are a number of ways you can support your joints.
1. Muscle-Strengthening ExerciseMuscles essentially act like shock absorbers in our bodies and help to stabilise and protect joints. Muscle strengthening movement such as light weight training can be incredibly protective for joint (and bone) health. It becomes increasingly important as you age that you continue to strengthen your muscles with weight bearing exercise. Knee joints, in particular, are the most prone to wear and tear - so strengthening the muscles with movement such as cycling, can help protect them from premature damage.
2. Joint Mobility MovementsWhen we move a joint, in a safe and full range of motion, we move the synovial fluid within the joint. This fluid is the joint’s lubrication. By moving our bodies, we help the synovial fluid to move. This joint movement moves the old fluid out and allows new fluid to move in. Old synovial fluid can accumulate of mineral deposit and microbes. Moving your body and your joints every day is a wonderful way to lubricate your joints naturally. Incorporate 5-10 minutes of joint mobility movement each morning.
3. Body RollingWhen we’re inactive, our muscles and connective tissue can become tight and inflexible. The stress being applied to a joint may be due imbalances in muscle strength - for example, one muscle being too tight, another being too weak – subsequently your body makes adjustments to compensate. Body rolling with a foam roller can be very helpful in addressing these imbalances. If you are experiencing joint pain or stiffness, it can be incredibly helpful to seek treatment and support from a physiotherapist or osteopath.
4. Keep Joints Lubricated With Helpful FatsThe fats that you eat eventually become the fats that populate your cell membranes, that also encapsulate your cells. These membrane fats become the building blocks for molecules that either call for inflammation or fight inflammation in the body. It is absolutely essential we nourish our bodies with fats from avocado, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon (or flaxseed).
Omega 3 fatty acids are particularly effective in fighting inflammation in the body, and can be easily incorporated into our diets by eating omega-3 rich salmon or flaxseed. The Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC) scored fish oil, derived from fatty fish such as sardines and salmon, as a maximum five for effectiveness. If you can't eat enough omega 3s, then consider supplementing with them. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and pecans are also good sources of omega 3 fats.
Foods And Nutrients That Support Joint Health
5. AcupunctureAcupuncture's origins date back to China more than 2,000 years ago. When properly administered, by an experienced practitioner it can be effective in providing relief for arthritic conditions, pain or inflammation of the joints.
Acupuncture is a very effective form of pain control and works in a number of ways. Firstly, it assists the body to produce chemicals called endorphins, which make us feel good and in turn inhibit our bodies ability to feel pain. Secondly, it stops the transmission of pain signals to the brain through the nervous system. Thirdly, it works on trigger points. Trigger points are tender and extremely reactivate areas that develop within specific areas of our muscles. The result being a widespread relaxation of both body and mind.