How do you feel when you wake in the morning? Do you jump out of bed ready to take on the day, or do you feel stiff and slow-moving? If the latter sounds more like you, your joints are probably talking to you.
Joints occur anywhere that two bones meet and allow for movement between those bones. Typical joints consist of bones covered in a cushion of cartilage and bathed in synovial fluid. The synovial fluid acts as a lubricant facilitating movement and decreasing friction. Discomfort in your joints is typically caused by over-exertion, and tends to occur more as we age.
Overall health is closely related to the health of our joints. Joint discomfort can limit our mobility and interfere with almost every aspect of our lives including exercise, enjoying time with family, and even performing everyday tasks.
What Can You Do?
Joint health really depends on the health of the cartilage surrounding the joints and there are many things you can do to help protect your joints:
- Exercise: According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to keep your joints healthy. In general, the more active a person stays, the healthier their joints. Any exercise where you are moving your joints works: consider walking, running, golf, tennis, or others. If you already have joint issues, consider exercises that don't put additional pressure on the joints such as cycling or swimming.
- Build your muscles: strong muscles support and protect your joints, so it is key to maintain muscle mass as you age. Consider weight training to help build muscle and protect joints. Adequate protein intake is also necessary; in fact protein requirements increase after age 60.
- Maintain healthy weight: The Arthritis Foundation suggests that being overweight can make any joint problem worse. Each extra pound of body weight puts around 4 times the pressure on your knees when you are walking. If you remove 10 pounds from your body, you have just taken away 40 pounds of pressure off your knees when you are walking and up to 70 pounds when you are climbing stairs.
- Ice: If you exercise or overdo it, consider using ice as a preventative. It not only helps reduce inflammation, but can also help with pain. It is best to use ice for only 15-20 minutes at a time, but you can repeat every hour.
- Supplement: There are many natural solutions that can help with joint discomfort.
- Glucosamine hydrochloride: The cartilage in your joints is primarily made up of a nutrient called glucosamine. Taking glucosamine as a supplement aids in helping to maintain healthy joints.
- Boswellia serrata: Boswellia is an herb that has been used for over a thousand years to help maintain joint health. A specific extract of Boswellia called 3-O-Acetyl-11-keto-Beta-Boswellic Acid (AKBA) has been shown in a recent study to improve joint comfort in as few as five days.
- Omega 3s: The Mayo Clinic gives Omega-3s an "A" rating: many studies report improvements in joint comfort with regular intake of fish oil supplements. Consume fish at least 2- times a week, or consider 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams a day of a good fish oil supplement.
Your joints have to last a lifetime and the health of your joints is closely related to your overall health. You can help your joints be their best by supporting them with healthy lifestyle choices and good nutrition.