Popping knees, crackling hips and stiff backs can be part of getting older. Joint pain and stiffness is caused when the connective tissue and cartilage that provides cushioning between joints wears out and gets thinner.
But joint pain and stiffness don’t have to accompany getting older. There’s no time like the present to take these steps to extend the life of joints and relieve stiffness. Here are some general tips for helping to managing joint pain:
- Get moving. Being inactive causes cartilage to shrink and stiffen and reduces joint mobility. Low impact fitness activities increase blood flow and reduce stiffness, while strength exercises help keep joints flexible. Exercise boosts muscle strength which can stabilize your joints. Wise choices include swimming, biking and Tai Chi. And added benefit: Exercise helps protect against falls.
- Stretch before exercise. Gentle stretching before exercise helps protect cartilage and reduces overall stiffness. It helps keep you limber and improves your overall strength and balance.
- Manage weight. Excess weight exerts excess stress on joints, especially knees. Plus, obesity is a significant factor for developing arthritis in the leg joints. Harvard Medical School points out that losing just three pounds of weight reduces pressure on the knees three-fold.
- Hydrate. A great way to keep your joints healthy is to drink plenty of water. Water keeps cartilage spongy and maintains its shock-absorption properties.
- Quit smoking. Smoking causes joint inflammation.
- Eat a mineral-rich diet. Choose foods that build bone density and strengthen connective tissue to help protect your joints. Such as: tuna, salmon, trout, halibut and sardines; walnuts, almonds and flax seeds; leafy greens; colorful fruits; olive oil; lentils and beans; and high-fiber whole grains.
The Right Way to Treat Joint Pain
If you do experience joint pain, that’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Treating the pain right away can ward of long-term issues.
- Apply ice for about 20 minutes, rest for 20 minutes and apply ice again.
- Get a massage to relieve tension on joints and muscles.
- Apply a warm compress or soak in a warm bath.
- Take ibuprofen as directed on the package.
For all joint issues, see your physician. You may find the problem is simple to correct. In addition, early diagnosis of a condition like arthritis can prevent irreversible damage.
At Embark we promote wellness and help our residents remain active and healthy through a variety of daily activities. Find an Embark community near you and learn more.