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Arthritis Health Center

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Caring for Your Joints

Build Muscles to Support Joints

Strong muscles support your joints. If you don't have enough muscle, your joints take a pounding, especially your spine, hips, and knees, which must support your entire body weight. Weight training exercises help build muscle and keep your muscles and surrounding ligaments strong. That way, your joints don't have to do all the work.

A certified personal trainer can show you the best exercises for healthy joints and how to do them correctly. Doing them incorrectly increases the chance of injury.

Help Joints With a Strong Core

Make sure your exercise routine includes activities that strengthen your core. That includes your chest, back, and abdomen.

Stronger abs and back muscles help you keep your balance and prevent falls that can damage your joints.

Know Your Limits for Your Joints' Sake

Certain exercises and activities might just be too tough for your joints to handle at first. Go slow. Modify exercises that cause joint pain. Ask a trainer, physical therapist, or coach to help you with modifications. You will likely feel some muscle pain after working out for a few days, especially the second and third day. Listen to your body, and learn the difference between "threatening pain" and good muscle-building pain.

Perfect Your Posture for Good Joints

Slouching is not good for your joints. Standing and sitting up straight protect your joints from your neck to your knees. Good posture also helps guard your hip joints and back muscles.

Posture is also important when lifting and carrying. For example, if you use a backpack, be sure to put it over both shoulders instead of slinging it over one. Being lopsided puts more stress on your joints. When lifting, use the biggest muscles in your body by bending at your knees instead of bending your back.

Protecting Your Body Protects Joints

Make sure you always wear a helmet, knee pads, and elbow and wrist pads when taking part in high-risk activities, including work-related ones such as repetitive kneeling or squatting. Even if you think you're a pro on a bicycle or on a pair of Rollerblades, you should never go without safety gear. Hit the wrong bump in the road, and you could be headed for a lifetime of trouble. Serious injuries or several minor injuries can damage cartilage. Injuries can lead to long-term joint problems.

Elbow and wrist braces, or guards, also help reduce stress on your joints during activities.

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