Caring for Your Joints
Help Joints With a Strong Core
Make sure your exercise routine includes activities that strengthen your abdominal (core) muscles. Stronger abs and back muscles help you keep your balance and prevent falls that can damage your joints.
Know Your Limits for Your Joints' Sake
Certain exercises and activities might just be too tough for your joints to handle at first. Go slow. Modify exercises that cause joint pain. Ask a trainer, physical therapist or coach to help you with modifications. You will likely feel some muscle pain after working out for a few days, especially the second and third day. Listen to your body, and learn the difference between "threatening pain" and good muscle building pain.
Don't be afraid to ask if you need help with a specific task or chore. A second pair of hands always comes in -- well, handy!
Perfect Your Posture for Good Joints
Slouching is not good for your joints. Standing and sitting up straight protects your joints from your neck to your knees. Good posture also helps guard your hip joints and back muscles.
Posture is also important when lifting and carrying. For example, if you use a backpack, be sure to put it over both shoulders instead of slinging it over one. Being lopsided puts more stress on your joints. When lifting, use the biggest muscles in your body by bending at your knees instead of bending your back.
Protecting Your Body Protects Joints
Make sure you always wear a helmet, knee pads, and elbow and wrist pads when taking part in high-risk activities, including work-related ones such as repetitive kneeling or squatting. Even if you think you're a pro on a bicycle or on a pair of Rollerblades, you should never go without safety gear. Hit the wrong bump in the road and you could be headed for a lifetime of joint pain. Serious injuries or several minor injuries can damage cartilage.
Preventing injuries can help ward off early onset arthritis. Elbow and wrist braces, or guards, also help reduce stress on your joints during activities.
Add Ice for Healthy Joints
Ice is a great drug-free pain reliever. It helps relieve joint swelling and numbs pain. If you have a sore joint, apply ice wrapped in a towel or a cold pack to the painful area for no more than 20 minutes. Don't have ice or a cold pack? Try wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables (peas work best!) in a light towel. Never apply ice directly to the skin. In the sports world, there is still some controversy whether to use ice or heat or nothing except compression to prevent swelling. The jury is still out. Certainly if there is a lot of swelling, ice is still recommended for the first 24-48 hours.