Mobility is a challenge for many individuals as the birthdays creep past 60. Joints ache, bones start to lose their mineral density, and muscles become less “toned.” For these reasons, you may feel less spring in your step.
Joint health is important because it allows you to walk, run, jump, play sports, and participate in activities of daily living with ease. Joint threats such as a sedentary lifestyle and the standard North American diet may lead to early joint degeneration and consequently, compromised joint structure and function.
Joint wear and tear
When the cartilage in a joint breaks down, the bones eventually rub together, causing pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion in the joint. Also known as osteoarthritis, this degenerative joint disease affects 10 percent of the adult Canadian population and is nearly universal by age 80.
Prevention and preservation of joint health is key to avoiding arthritic and other degenerative changes to the joint. While age and sex are significant unavoidable predictors in the development of osteoarthritis, there are many studied modifiable factors that can help delay or avoid its onset.
Below are 7 risk factors that can threaten joint health, and the measures you can take to add some spry to your daily activities:
- Weight gain. A high body-mass-index (BMI) is a strong risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis. In a meta-analysis that reviewed 2,333 studies on osteoarthritis, participants who were overweight or obese were almost threefold as likely to develop knee osteoarthritis. Accordingly, losing weight can alleviate excess mechanical stress on susceptible joints.
- Poor nutrition. A whole-foods, plant-based diet was found to significantly alleviate some symptoms of osteoarthritis in a study that included 37 individuals with the condition. Adding foods rich in anti-oxidants into your diet, such as fruits and vegetables, may help reduce joint tissue damage from inflammation.
- Prolonged sitting or standing. Spending many hours a day sitting or standing can increase pain and stiffness in affected joints. Incorporating regular low-intensity exercise into your day improves joint circulation and helps maintain muscle strength – two beneficial impacts on joint health.
- Taking risks. Participating in high-risk activities that add torque or pressure to the joints may threaten joint health. Instead, opt for low-impact activities and proper safety equipment, such as kneepads or walking sticks.
- Trauma. Injury to a joint, such as a torn ligament or meniscus in the knee, can predispose a joint to early arthritis. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, damaging a joint can increase your likelihood of developing arthritis by sevenfold!
- Ignoring signs and symptoms. Ignoring key messages from your body such as increased pain, joint cracking, or loss of mobility may threaten the long-term prognosis of your joint health. It is important to work with your primary healthcare provider for a treatment plan that can help ease symptoms, and to ensure your symptoms are not due to more serious disease. To help ease your suffering in the meantime, consider a more natural approach to pain relief by trying Joint Pain Relief.
- Pushing beyond your limits. While it is normal to have some muscular soreness after physical activity, the old adage, “no pain, no gain” can be detrimental to your joint health. Go easy on yourself and know your limits!