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Caring for Your Joints

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.

Add Ice for Healthy Joints

Ice is a great drug-free pain reliever. It helps relieve joint swelling and numbs pain. If you have a sore joint, apply ice wrapped in a towel or a cold pack to the painful area for no more than 20 minutes. Don't have ice or a cold pack? Try wrapping a bag of frozen vegetables (peas work best!) in a light towel. Never apply ice directly to the skin.

Eating Right Nourishes Joints

Eating a healthy diet is good for your joints, because it helps build strong bones and muscles. 

For your bones, make sure you get enough calcium every day. You can do this by eating foods such as milk, yogurt, broccoli, kale, figs, and fortified foods like soy or almond milk.  If those foods don't tempt your taste buds, ask your doctor if calcium supplements are right for you.

For your muscles, you need to get enough protein. Exactly how much you need depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. Most Americans get enough protein. Good sources include lean meats, seafood, beans, legumes, soy products, and nuts. Go for a variety.

You also need vitamin D to keep your bones and joints in good health. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium from the foods you eat. Dairy products. many cereals, soy milk, and almond milk are fortified with vitamin D. You can ask your doctor about the proper amount of vitamin D and ways you can get it.

Oranges may also give your joints a healthy boost. Some studies suggest that vitamin C and other antioxidants can help keep your joints healthy.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on January 23, 2014
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