The Arthritis Foundation has listed some simple steps to persevere joint health and general suggestions for being better to your joints!
Here are some of their steps:
- Ditch the high heels. Unless you're a fashion model, chances are you can live without high heels. Experts say a three-inch heel stresses your foot seven times more than a one-inch heel. In addition, heels put extra stress on your knees and may increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- Sit and stand. Neither sitting nor standing on your feet all day is good for you. When possible, alternate between the two to prevent locking yourself in one position. If your job primarily involves sitting, take a break and stand up every 30 minutes or so.
- Handle heavy loads. To make heavy loads easier to handle, use your largest, strongest joints and muscles to take stress off smaller hand joints and to spread the load over large surface areas. When you lift or carry items, use the palms of both hands or use your arms instead of your hands. Hold items close to your body, which is less stressful for your joints. For joint safety, slide objects whenever possible rather than lift them.
- Resolve to reduce. Lose weight. You won't just look better – you’ll feel better, too. Every extra pound you gain puts four times the stress on your knees. The flip side is that even a small amount of weight loss will give your knees relief. Research has shown that losing as little as 11 pounds may improve your joint health and cut your risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent.
- Picture portion sizes. Eating proper portions is key to losing and maintaining a healthy weight and, in turn, lightening the load on your joints. Brush up on proper portion sizes and picture visual comparisons. For instance: One serving of meat – 3 ounces – is the size of the palm of your hand; one serving of dairy – say 2 ounces of cheese – is the size of a pair of dominoes; one serving of vegetables – 1 cup – is the size of your fist.
- Turn off the tube. Television not only keeps you sedentary, which slows your metabolism, it also makes you prone to overeating. Read a good book instead, or better yet, pop on those cross trainers and hit the road.
- Build strong bones. Boost your calcium intake, because a diet rich in this important mineral helps to keep your bones sturdy and can lower your risk of osteoporosis (the brittle bone disease). There are plenty of sources besides milk, including yogurt, broccoli, kale, figs, salmon and calcium supplements.
- Pick, pour or peel. If you are looking for a tasty treat, reach for an orange – or a tall glass of orange juice. Why? Recent research points to the importance of vitamin C and other antioxidants in reducing your risk of osteoarthritis.
- Add color to your diet. Choose fruits and veggies in a wide range of color to get maximum nutrients, such as fiber, disease-fighting antioxidants and an abundance of phytochemicals.
- Hang out at the bar. Eating the veggies typically found in a plain tossed salad from a salad bar – romaine and Bibb lettuces, broccoli, spinach, kale or parsley – can lessen the amount of bone loss that occurs with age, research says, thanks to their high calcium count. But remember to go easy on the dressing.
- Be supplement savvy. Glucosamine, a supplement made from the shells of crab, lobster and shrimp, has been shown to ease joint pain and stiffness, particularly in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Some studies suggest that it may contribute to cartilage repair.
- Throw some fish on the grill. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, can help keep your joints healthy. In fact, studies show omega-3s can reduce the pain and inflammation of stiff joints in people with arthritis. Because you probably don't have time to grill fish every night, consider supplementing your diet with fish oil capsules.
- Curtail your caffeine intake. While you may need that extra burst of energy in the morning, try and resist those second and third cups of coffee. Studies show that the extra caffeine can weaken your bones.
- Take the plunge. From strength training to jogging to aerobic classes (and let’s not forget the plain old swim), aquatic exercises allow you to keep doing many of the exercises you love, while taking a load off your joints.
- Take a hike. Choose your favorite spots and walk them at least once a week. Hiking burns calories, strengthens muscles and builds denser bones, while providing interesting scenery and a chance to get in touch with Mother Nature.
- Warm up. Don't think about hitting the gym, the pool or the trails (or any exercise for that matter) before warming up. Warming up your body before exercise is like warming your car up in the winter. To keep it running smoothly and for optimal joint safety, start slowly and get up to speed only after your muscles and joints have at least five minutes prep time.
- Go for function not fashion. Shoes shouldn't just look good, they should work well, too. Look for flexible, supportive shoes that are squared or rounded at the toe so your toes can move around. A shoe with a rubber sole will give you more cushion. Make sure your shoe is flexible at the ball of your foot, where you push off.
- Check in with yourself. Monitor how you're feeling after exercise. Joints still aching two hours after your workout are telling you something. Listen to them and lighten your routine next time.
- Stttrrreeetttccchhh. Stretching isn't just for workouts anymore. Take breaks throughout the day, including at your office, to get re-energized and help keep your muscles and ligaments flexible and strong.
- Bulk up. Strength training is the best way to boost your metabolism (and get a sleeker bod, too). Research also shows lifting weights creates denser bones and builds stronger muscles that help stabilize and protect joints.
- Increase your range. Range-of-motion exercises (such as stretching) are a good way to keep your muscles and ligaments flexible and strong. Add weights to your workout and you'll tone up, too.
- Do the write thing. Keeping a journal can be fun and therapeutic. Writing about your deepest fears, feelings and frustrations can help you put everything in perspective. It also helps you easily look back over your victories and successes. Some people with pain have found a measure of relief from writing down their feelings.
- Kick butt. People who smoke have a greater risk of fracture than nonsmokers. In fact, smoking can reduce bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis. Kick the habit to keep your body strong and healthy. Plus, just think of all the money you'll save by going smoke-free.
- Make a date with your doctor. See your physician for a routine check-up at least once a year. Request an examination of your joints – from head to toe – and ask for tips on protecting your joints from daily wear and tear. It's never too soon to learn self-management techniques.
Fess up. Be sure to tell your doctor about medications you are taking, both prescription and over the counter. Don't forget to mention any nutritional supplements you're taking, too. All medications – even natural ones – have the potential to cause side effects or to react adversely with each other. Tell your doctor about joint pain. If you have signs of arthritis, see your doctor to get a full exam and diagnosis.