Many people talk about getting more active as the new year begins, and as orthopedic physicians, we love to see enthusiasm for health and fitness any time of year. If you’re feeling motivated to exercise more, be mindful of protecting your joints and muscles to keep them healthy. Here are a few tips that can help you maintain and improve your joint and muscle health.
Stretching Before Exercise & Physical Activity
Make it a healthy habit to stretch each day, especially before exercise. Warming up with stretches allows for greater range of motion, improved balance and increased flexibility. It also increases blood flow to the muscles and enables them to work more effectively.
Strike a balance when stretching to avoid strain or injury: Carefully move each joint through its full range of motion, but don’t overextend or put your body in stressful positions. However, if you have joint pain from an existing joint condition, we recommend consulting your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist about your particular stretching regimen to ensure it is safe and won’t worsen your condition.
Fitness activities that emphasize stretching, such as Pilates and Yoga, offer many benefits, including a more stable spine and stronger core muscles. When you have a strong core, your posture and movement improve, and there is less stress on your joints.
Protect Your Joints
Consider activities that aren’t hard on your joints, especially as you age. Some effective but low-impact options include walking, swimming, cycling and using an elliptical trainer.
Strength training is another good activity because strong muscles support your joints. If you don’t have enough muscle where you need it, your joints take a pounding, especially your spine, hips and knees. Weight training helps build muscle and keeps your muscles and ligaments strong, so they can better support your joints.
When you’re exercising, it’s important to support the weight-bearing joints in your feet. Invest in well-designed athletic shoes and ensure the proper fit.
Nutrition Affects Bone, Joint & Muscle Health
Foods with anti-inflammatory properties can promote joint health. Try more tomatoes, olive oil, red peppers, kale, spinach, fatty fish, a handful of nuts, and richly colored fruits such as cherries, blueberries and strawberries. Include foods and beverages that are high in calcium and Vitamin D to support strong bones and help prevent degenerative joint conditions like osteoarthritis.
Drinking plenty of water should be an essential part of your daily routine – even more so when exercising. The benefits of proper hydration on your health are far-reaching, not the least of which includes healthy joints and muscle tissues.
Keep Moving to Prevent Joint & Muscle Stiffness
The more you stay still, the more you’ll pay for it with stiff muscles and joints. Exercise as regularly as possible while maintaining a regimen that aligns with your current health status as well as your health goals. If your job keeps you fairly stationary throughout the day, try to change positions often and go for short walks when you can. Make this a daily priority. Saving most of your activity for the weekend could be too much at one time and cause damage to your joints or muscles from acute overuse.
You may find these other blogs helpful about common sports and fitness injuries, and how to prevent them:
- Three Common Types of Foot Pain in Runners (and how to prevent them)
- Five Tips to Prevent Running Injuries
- Common Shoulder Injuries that Occur at Home, Work and Play
- Sports Medicine – Not Just for Athletes
- Common Leg and Knee Injuries that Occur at Home, Work and Play
The medical information contained in the Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics website is provided to increase your knowledge and understanding of orthopedic conditions. This information should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific medical or surgical treatment plan. As each patient may have specific symptoms or associated problems, the treatment regimen for a specific patient may not be the proper treatment for another.
Gaining knowledge and understanding of a particular problem or condition is the first step in any medical treatment plan. We believe the information presented on our website will be helpful for those individuals experiencing hand and wrist diseases, injuries, or other related problems. However, this information is not intended to replace the advice of your family physician. You are encouraged to consult with your physician to discuss any course of treatment presented or suggested.