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Strengthen and Lengthen the Life of Joints

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By: Cierra Washington, ATC

How can we strengthen our joints given how much stress we put on them throughout our lives. When I was little, I was always confused when my grandmother mentioned ‘Arthur’ when she talked about her knees. She would say something like, ‘Arthur got me this morning and these knees are slow at getting me going!’ I was so confused who Arthur was and what he had to do with her knees. I now know that Arthur wasn’t a person, but rather the term my grandmother used to refer to Arthur-it is, formally known as arthritis. Getting back to purpose of this blog to talk about joint health, arthritis is a good place to start.

Arthritis is a condition in which inflammation has invaded the joint space and is causing joint stiffness and/or pain. As we age, our body begins to decline from the wear and tear that our bodies endure with our activities of daily living. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of Americans over the age of 65 are dealing with arthritis somewhere in their bodies.

It’s important to understand that inflammation is not always a negative thing. It often signifies the beginning phase of healing. The immune system uses inflammation to defend the body against bacteria, as well as repair damaged tissues by sending our white blood cells to “clean” the site. Typically, the inflammation phase ceases shortly after it begins. When we’re talking about arthritis however, the inflammation continues and starts to wreak havoc in the joint. The increased swelling in the joint most commonly leads to joint stiffness and increased pain with or without movement.

So how can we reduce joint pain, whether that be from arthritis specifically or not? How do we strengthen our joints? And finally, how can we lengthen the life of our joints? Here are six tips to help with all three of those things:

  1. Get up and get moving: Staying active encourages circulation in the joint, which allows for smoother movement between the bones. Physical activity also helps to increase the strength and flexibility of the joints, which helps provide support around the joint.

 

  1. Stay hydrated: Water makes up 60% of our synovial fluid, which is what lubricates our joints to prevent friction pain and cartilage deterioration.

 

  1. Increase Vitamin D: It helps absorb calcium, which in turn helps us build stronger bones. Our body naturally removes tiny amounts of calcium and replaces it with new calcium. However if we aren’t replenishing our bodies with enough calcium, our bones will become weaker and more susceptible to breaking.

 

  1. Weight Management: Increased weight on the joints causes increased stress. For every pound lost, 4 pounds of pressure is removed from the knees for example.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to switch it up: Often times we get stuck in routines that lead to repetitive stress on the same joints. In order to counteract that, we need to change up our daily routines. For instance, if you sit all day at work, make the change to a standing desk or get up and walk every 15-30 minutes. When you’re in the gym, try alternating exercises in order to fire different muscles and movement patterns.

 

  1. Discover your strengths: Get to know your body more and learn your strengths and use them to your advantage. For instance, when going up and down stairs, learn to use your stronger leg going up and the weaker leg going down, minimizing the pressure on the weakened side.

Joint health is something that ALL ages need to be concerned about, not just older populations. The more we educate ourselves, the less likely we are to develop joint conditions like arthritis or general joint pain and stiffness. At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we treat all joints and can help address your joint pain and help you manage arthritic pain. Physical therapy is a proven conservative treatment method that can help strengthen and lengthen the life of your joints. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300 and schedule a full evaluation with one of our therapists.

CLICK HERE for some stretches you can do to help address joint stiffness and pain.

 

 

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