Did you know that there are approximately 250 joints in an adult human body? Some of these joints, like synarthroses are immovable and fixed in place, while others like ampiarthroses may move ever so slightly. However when most people think of joints, they think about diarthroses or freely movable joints. This is because the vast majority of joints in the human body are freely movable joints including: ball and socket, hinge, condyloid, pivot, gliding, and saddle joints.
While these freely movable joints allow for movement, the constant stress that some of these joints undergo can eventually lead to discomfort and dysfunction. As the cartilage in between joints wears down over time, osteoarthritis can also develop. Although osteoarthritis can affect any joint, it commonly affects the hands, knees, hips, neck, and lower back.
One way to decrease your risk of developing osteoarthritis, as well as to decrease its severity, is to take special measures to preserve your joints. Here are some ways to preserve your joints that orthopedic specialists recommend:
Maintain an Ideal Body Weight
Maintaining an ideal body weight is important for a variety of reasons and offers many different health benefits. It is especially helpful for alleviating joint pain and dysfunction in the knee joint. This is because any additional body weight exerts excess stress on your joints, especially the knees, ankles, and foot joints. Research shows that losing weight can decrease knee pain and stiffness, and can improve overall function.
Eating healthy ensures that you are providing your body with the proper nutrients to maintain itself. Green leafy vegetables have been shown to slow the rate of cartilage destruction and they are also rich in nutrients that support joint and bone health. Dairy products are another ideal choice since they are high in calcium. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and mackeral has also been shown to improve joint health and decrease inflammation. You can also take omega-3s as an oil capsule if you are not a fish-eater. It can also be helpful to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, such as a Mediterranean diet, which decreases inflammation throughout the body and improves arthritis symptoms.
Exercise has a variety of health benefits as well, however some types of exercise are better for those with joint problems. Specifically low-impact exercises are designed to exert less stress on the joints during exercise. This allows you to exercise more without feeling like you are overdoint it. Strength training is an example of a low-impact exercise that can also build muscle around the joints in order to provide additional joint support.
Stay in Motion
Even when you are not exercising, it is important to stay in motion. Maintaining the same position for extended periods of time, whether it be sitting or standing, is not good for your joints and can result in them becoming stiff and strained. To prevent this, be sure you take breaks to stretch about every 30 minutes or so.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Wearing ideal shoes not only decreases the stress on your joints, but it can help reduce back pain as well. The ideal shoe should be flexible, supportive, and should have ample space for your toes to move around. Also, be advised that wearing high heels places additional stress on your foot and knees that increases with every inch of heel. Research shows that a 3 inch heel adds about 7 times the amount of stress compared to a 1 inch heel.