Want Healthy Joints? Start With These 7 Tips
Joints, the connection between two bones, are something you may not think about – or even notice – until they get your attention with pain. While age and injury may cause problems in your hips, knees, shoulders, ankles, and elbows, Orthopaedic Surgeon John R. Burger, DO, at Bayhealth Orthopaedics, Dover office offers seven tips for maintaining healthy – and pain-free – joints:
- Strengthen surrounding muscles. “For your hips, that’s your legs – the glutes, hamstrings, and quads – and your abdominal muscles, and all those can be maintained through healthy workouts,” said Dr. Burger. Working those same muscles also benefit your knee joints, he said. He recommends finding an appropriate activity. A physical therapist or personal trainer can provide safe starting exercises – some can be performed from a chair or lying prone on a mat – to develop strength without further injury. “Maintenance is your best friend.”
- Maintain flexibility around the joints while strengthening muscle. Schedule time for proper rest after activity. “Make sure your body can recover; don’t do too much.” Dr. Burger also recommends stretching to improve range of motion.
- Wear good supportive shoes. Not only do your shoes provide a solid foundation, they also may assist in balance and prevent a turned ankle.
- Keep your postural muscles and shoulders in good shape. “The rotator cuff is easy to ignore.” Postural muscles, often referred to as your core, include the abdominal muscles, the muscles in your back as well as the muscles that surround the truck of your body. Exercises, such as planks, can build strength in all these muscles, but start slowly and maintain proper form.
- He advises against prolonged sitting and suggests balance activities that are incorporated as part of yoga and tai chi practices. Classes may be available online or at local fitness sites.
- If you are unsure about which exercises are best for you and how to do them correctly, consider hiring a professional. “For people who are just getting started, a personal trainer is not a bad way to go.” A trained exercise specialist will be able to observe your strengths and weakness, teach you proper form, and assist in achieving fitness goals.
- Recognize the difference between muscle soreness and pain. “Let pain be your guide. Muscle soreness is different from joint aches and pains.” Soreness is typically attributed to fatigue or overuse, relieved by over-the-counter pain-relieving medication; if the site becomes tender and continues after rest, you might want to consult your doctor.