When you think about your health, you probably focus on your weight. Many of us tend to assume that getting healthy is about shaping up and slimming down. However, there’s a lot more to healthy living than dropping a dress size. Making positive lifestyle choices can also reduce your risk of developing serious health issues and improve your quality of life. This guide focuses on joint health. If you’re keen to stay mobile for as long as possible, here are some top tips to help you stay supple and prevent injuries.
Looking after your joints and increasing suppleness
Your joints are responsible for enabling you to move around and carry out a wide range of actions. Think about when you raise your arms or kick a ball, for example. At that given time, your body is working to enable you to fulfill this action. If you’re lifting your arms, you use your shoulder joint. If you’re kicking a ball, your hips, knees, and ankles will be involved. The joints are made up of bones, which are attached to connective tissue, including tendons and ligaments. Your body is made up of different types of joint. The shoulder and hip, for example, are ball and socket joints. These flexible joints enable you to perform a wide range of movements. The elbow is a hinge joint, which enables you to flex and extend the arm. Every time you make a movement of any kind, your joints are working. Over the course of a lifetime, they withstand a lot of pressure, so it’s essential to take good care of them.
Exercise can be incredibly beneficial for your joints, but it can also be damaging. If you’re keen to get fit without applying pressure to the joints, opt for low-impact activities. Pounding the pavements, for example, can put a lot of strain on the knees, hips, and ankles. If you enjoy endurance activities, swap road running for cycling or swimming.
Exercises that increase your flexibility are brilliant for your joints. Good examples include yoga and Pilates. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry. You can search online for beginner’s classes or use video tutorials or DVDs.
Strengthening your core is also beneficial for your joints. This means improving muscle tone in the abs. You can do this by lifting weights and doing exercises like sit-ups, bicycle crunches, and leg lifts. Studies show that a strong core increases flexibility and reduces the risk of falls. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.)
Your diet can have a significant impact on your joints. Some foods are incredibly beneficial for your joints, while others may exacerbate symptoms. Foods to incorporate into your diet include oily fish, nuts, avocados, milk, and olive oil. Try and avoid fizzy drinks, beer, and processed meats.
Injuries can have a profound impact on your physical and mental health. It’s not always possible to prevent injuries, but these steps will help to reduce your risk.
Warming up and cooling down
You should never start playing sport or exercising without doing a warm up first. The warm up is essential for getting your blood pumping and preparing your muscles and joints. If you go straight into exercise, you’re likely to damage your body. You could pull a muscle or even dislocate a joint. After exercise, take a few minutes to stretch and bring your heart rate down. If you stop suddenly, lactic acid will pool in the blood, increasing the risk of aches and pains, and your blood pressure may drop rapidly.
Tailor your warm up to the activity you’re preparing to start. If you’re a javelin thrower or a tennis player, for example, make sure you limber up beforehand. Your shoulders should be relaxed and ready for action. Do some windmills and stretch up to the sky before you hit any balls or throw anything. If you don’t warm up properly, you could end up in all sorts of bother. You could damage the connective tissue or even wind up needing shoulder replacement surgery.
Correcting your posture
If you don’t have good posture, this can increase your risk of back pain and acute and chronic injuries. If you spend a lot of time sitting down at work, for example, ensure that your desk is set up correctly. You should be able to reach the keyboard without stretching, and your back should be straight with your shoulders back. If you’re slouching or reaching forward, this can result in aches and pains. If you’re required to lift anything, make sure you adopt the correct posture. Your back should be straight, and your knees slightly bent. If you have bad posture, this can have long-term repercussions for your health.
Perfecting your technique
If you enjoy playing sport or working out at the gym, make sure you have the right technique. If you’re not lifting weights or kettlebells correctly or you’re using the wrong technique when you’re smashing forehands, this can increase the risk of injury. If you’re new to the gym, for example, it’s well worth booking an induction or signing up for a few sessions with a personal trainer. You don’t have to stay with a trainer for months, but it helps to know that you’re doing things right.
If you have an injury, learn when to take time out. Sometimes, you can carry on without doing any more damage. But in the majority of cases, it’s best to take things easy until your injury heals. If you’re unsure, ask a doctor for advice. You can take over the counter painkillers and apply ice packs to reduce pain and inflammation.
When you’re thinking about ways to become healthier, spare a thought for your hard-working joints. These joints have got to keep you moving for years to come, so it pays to look after them. Be careful when choosing which kinds of exercise to do, and try and include joint-friendly foods in your diet. Always warm up properly, and rest if you have an injury. Take care to correct your posture, and avoid lifting anything heavy.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.