Six Ways to Care for Your Joints

August 21st, 2012
Step on the scale:

Do you know your healthy weight-range? Staying in that zone is the best thing you can do for your joints. Weight-bearing joints, such as your knees, hips, and back, have to support your body, so the higher the number on your bathroom scale, the more wear and tear you are inflicting on your joints. Losing weight reduces pressure on your knees, hips, and back and helps prevent joint injury.

Don’t sit still:

Couch potatoes or anyone who is chained to a chair at work all day are at risk for joint pain. Less movement equals more stiffness. Change positions often. Take breaks at work to stand up and stretch or go for a short walk. If you can't leave your desk, talk on the phone while you stand.

Be consistent:

Exercise is a great way to help you lose weight and keep your joints limber. But don’t be a weekend warrior – suddenly changing how often or how hard you exercise is tough on your joints.

Before exercising or playing with Fido, warm up with a slow walk and some light stretching. Stretching the muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) and back of the thigh (hamstrings) reduces tension on the tendons and relieves pressure on the knee during activity.

Rethink your shoes:

Whether you love shopping for the latest platform heels or don’t think much about what you put on your feet at all, you should care what you put on your feet. Wearing shoes that fit properly and are in good condition will help you stay balanced and keep your legs aligned.  If you have flat feet or overpronated feet (feet that roll inward), you can possibly reduce some problems with special shoe inserts.

Build support:

If you don't have enough muscle, your joints take a pounding – having strong muscles will take some strain off of your joints. Weight training exercises that help build muscle will also keep surrounding ligaments strong so your joints don't have to do all the work.

Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any type of exercise routine. You don't want to injure the joints you're trying to protect. If you don’t want to weight lift, exercises that strengthen your leg muscles – like climbing stairs or  riding a bicycle – are also good moves.

Perfect your posture:

How many times did your teacher tell you to sit up straight in your desk? Slouching is just not good for you-from your neck to your knees. Being lopsided puts more stress on your joints.

Posture is also important when lifting and carrying. For example, if you use a backpack, be sure to put it over both shoulders; don’t sling it over one side. And when lifting, use the biggest muscles in your body by bending at your knees.

Check out what people are saying about Herrin Hospital’s Joint Camp – combining surgical expertise with top-notch therapy and valuable education to give you a better experience and faster recovery when facing joint replacement surgery.

For more information contact Stephanie Banks – 618.942.2171 ext.35856

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