Keep Your Joints In Shape

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Posted by Helene

We have all felt tight or achy at some point or another and we kept on going about our day not thinking too much about what was going on inside our bodies. We blame it on the weather, a long week, a bad couple nights of sleep. We never think too much of our bodies as a complex set of mechanics. We like to think that we tell it what to do and it will just keep on responding. Well, where your joints are concerned, what you do and do not makes a big difference. Taking care of your joints now can prevent major disabilities such as osteoarthritis, and aches and pains in your spine, hips, hands,…

Let’s do a quick anatomy of your joints:
A hinge joint is similar to the opening and closing of a door. Some examples of hinge joints are the elbow, knee, ankle and joints between the fingers.
Ball and socket joints allow twisting and turning movements. Some of these joints are the shoulder and the hip.
Other joints: Gliding joints allow two flat bones to slide over each other like in the bones of the foot and wrist. A condyloid joint allows the head to nod and the fingers to bend. The thumbs has a saddle joint that allows enough flexibility for the thumb to touch any other finger.
Although serving a different purpose, they all share similar features. In your joints you will find the ligament which acts as a bridge from one bone to the other via the muscle. There is also cartilage that acts as a shock absorber to prevent bones from grinding against each other.

Joint problems occur when we start to lose that cushioning and there are a number of factor contributing cumulatively to this loss.
1/ Aging: cartilage thins as we age and overtime its surface can change from smooth to fissured. That’s when erosions in cartilage start to appear.
2/ Previous injuries: minor joint injuries like a twist or tear when you were younger can be areas of damage years later
3/ Inflammation: small but repetitive injuries can cause low levels of inflammation and damaged or inflammatory cells can gather at a site of injury and release chemicals destructive to cartilage.
4/ Loss of muscle mass: there is no other way to put it but it is a fact that we all lose some muscle mass as we age. We need to work out to maintain it or our joints will absorb more of the pounding from daily living, instead of your muscles, contributing to more damage in the end.
5/ Excess weight: the more a joint has to carry the more damage it experiences in the lonng run. Extra weight can have a wear and tear effect in the cartilage and the cushion can get thinner until there is nothing left.

Obviously you can’t bring back cartilage that is already lost but there are several easy steps you ca take to prevent or reduce the disabilities associated with joint pain.
1/ Maintain a healthy weight: if you carry extra weight, a loss of only 10% your body weight can reduce pain due to arthritis by 50% . Weight loss may also help slow the progression of arthritis over time.
2/ Vary your exercise: do a mix of low or non-impact aerobics like swimming, walking or cycling at least 3 times a week. Add strength training exercises twice a week mixed with stretching, Pilates or/and Yoga.
3/ Use your muscles: weight training helps strengthen the ligaments and muscles around your joints, but you need to modify certain exercises if you are already experiencing pain. Do seated leg lifts instead of squats and lunges for example. Working out with a band is also a good option.
4/ Use ice: icing your joints after exercising can help prevent pain and reduce swelling. Every time we exercise, we draw a lubricant called synovial fluid to our joints, but if it stays there too long after exercise it can cause cracks in the cartilage. Applying ice gets that fluid out of the joints and into the lymphatic system,” the garbage disposal” of the body so to speak.
5/ Eat “joint beneficial” foods: studies show that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like tuna and salmon can help reduce the symptoms associated with joint pain and also reduce some of the levels of inflammation that may be causing some of the pain.
Vitamin D may also protect your joints via an anti-inflammatory effect. Research suggest getting between 400 to 800 International Units (IUs) might be beneficial. One cup of milk contains 100 IUs, and three ounces of salmon has roughly 400-500 IUs for example.

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This Post was written by Helen from Tartelette


Thanks Helen, this is a very informative post.

Neelam said...
July 29, 2007 at 4:05:00 AM GMT+2  

great article...thanks for explaining everything in detail...


Srivalli said...
July 30, 2007 at 8:52:00 AM GMT+2  

Interesting article :) Thanks

July 30, 2007 at 11:30:00 PM GMT+2  

really interesting helene. what would your advice be for someone (me!) who does no exercise, and would like to, but is scared to because of recurring and unexplained joint pain (elbow and knee mostly, occasional shoulder too)? i have to admit that i use the joint pain as an excuse for continuing my laziness!

abby said...
July 31, 2007 at 4:27:00 PM GMT+2  

Abby: water aerobics is a great way to start. You really do work all your muscles and heart rate in a gentle environment. The recumbent bike can also be an option. For my clients with severe arthritis, RA or osteoporosis I like working with a cable machine. There is very little jarring or impact.

Tartelette said...
August 2, 2007 at 5:40:00 AM GMT+2  

thanks helene - my august resolution is to take a step towards fitness so i shall find out about aquaerobics and go along to a sesion as that idea is quite appealing.

abby said...
August 2, 2007 at 10:40:00 AM GMT+2  

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