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How To Protect Your Joints

When it comes to orthopedics in Green Bay and Appleton, one of the biggest points of contention is proper joint health. The majority of people tend not to think much about their joints until they start to have issues with them. And, to be fair, that’s the way that most people go about their health regimens. However, it bears mentioning that people should be paying attention to their joints well before they start feeling discomfort. Here’s some insight to protect your joints, so you won’t need Mako robotic surgery before your time.

Lifestyle Changes

First, let’s talk about some fundamental lifestyle decisions you can make. One of the quickest ways you can make a positive impact with your health is to stop smoking. Smoking and tobacco use, in general, is linked to a variety of issues, from heart problems to cancer, and yes, joint issues. The reason for this is that smoking tends to increase levels of inflammation throughout the body, so if you have a joint injury or problem, it naturally takes longer for the body to recover and heal. Giving a full explanation on how to quit is outside of the scope of this article, but there are a lot of resources and support available for people who are interested.

Another thing you want to focus on is proper hydration. Cartilage is that flexible, connective tissue that helps cushion our joints, and if it isn’t properly hydrated, the body can end up pulling water from said cartilage (which is 80% water), which can lead to a lot of problems. As a result, you should always be looking for ways to try and replace those energy drinks and sodas with water. If you’re struggling to figure out how much water you should consume, follow a smart course of action and listen to what your body tells you. When you’re thirsty, drink water. Make sure you pump up that hydration while exercising or during hot weather.

On the topic of exercising, carrying a lot of extra weight isn’t good for your joint either, however, being underweight can be a problem as well. Why is this the case? Overweight people are carrying up to 39 pounds of force on their knees for every additional 10 pounds of weight they have. When it comes to being underweight, you may lack the necessary muscle to help stabilize your joints. In both events, it’s a good idea to reach out to a doctor or nutritionist to help you find a proper healthy eating plan. The Mediterranean diet is a favorite option due to its combination of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

On the topic of dieting, there are certain nutrients that are naturally needed for joint health, for example, Vitamin D and calcium. Most people know how calcium is a key component of bone health, but as things turn out, you need to get proper levels of Vitamin D to properly absorb calories. You can potentially get vitamin D via sun exposure, dieting, or supplements. Some people are deficient in this nutrient, which you can figure out via blood test.

Many people with arthritis resist regular physical activity or exercise because they fear it will increase pain or further damage their joints. The body is supposed to move; our joints allow for movement. In fact, movement eases joint stiffness, reduces joint pain, strengthens the muscles which surround the joints, and help us maintain a healthy weight. The benefits are real, so keep moving!

Improving Your Body

With this said, there are ways to accompany these practices to further your health and minimize the need for hip replacement, among other procedures. Here’s a closer look. For one thing, you can do a lot to protect your joints while walking around or going about your daily schedule. Things like maintaining a proper weight or avoiding activities that cause pain are a good start, but you may also want to look into assistive devices, or make sure you are practicing good body mechanics (lifting with your legs, etc.). Your orthopedic doctor in the Fox Valley may be able to help here.

We mentioned before the importance of a proper weight when it comes to prolonged joint health, but what’s the best way to lose weight in this regard? One good place to start is with low-impact exercises. These types of exercises minimize the amount of stress that’s put on the joints during high-intensity workouts. Examples of accessible low-intensity workouts include aquatic activities like swimming, golf, cycling, and even basic walking.

When it comes to exercise, though, you want to have a broad variety of options to work with. For example, strengthening exercises is a great asset to maintain your joint health, by empowering the muscles that surround and keep the joint up. One of the most common options in this area is weight training, but you want to be careful to pace yourself. This helps lower pain and increase stability.

Going hand-in-hand with strength training is increasing your range of motion. To be more flexible or just maintain what you have, you want to do exercises that extend, bend, and rotate your joints. Taking these steps helps to improve flexibility, while reducing pain and stiffness.

As one final note, if you’re trying to start an exercise regimen to improve your joints, you want to practice good habits, like taking the time to warm up and cool down. Some people, especially those going to the gym after work or in the middle of their day, hop right on the treadmill rather than stretching. This is a mistake because not warming up can put your joints at risk of strain and overloading. Generally, a good warm-up pace is for around five minutes, using the same muscles you plan on focusing on during exercise. The only difference is that you’re doing it at a slower pace.

Any Questions?

Request a consultation with one of the orthopedic specialists at the Orthopedic & Sports Institute. Call (920) 560-1000 or request an appointment online.

OSI has convenient locations to serve you. The campus in Appleton includes clinics, a surgery center, MRI, physical therapy, and a skilled nursing facility, as well as a walk-in clinic that provides care for new orthopedic injuries. OSI has outreach clinics in Green Bay, New London, Ripon, Shawano, Waupaca, and the newest location at 600 N. Koeller Street in Oshkosh.

OSI is a proud member of NOVO Health.