Woman Stretching Joints at Work
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Stay in Motion

It's the golden rule of joint health: The more you move, the less stiffness you'll have. Whether you're reading, working, or watching TV, change positions often. Take breaks from your desk or your chair and get active.

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Family Exercising Together
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Safety First

Padding is your pal. So suit up when you do things like in-line skating or play contact sports. If your joints already ache, it might help to wear braces when you do activities like tennis or golf.

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Tape Measure and Weight Loss Diary
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Lean In to Your Weight

Your size affects some of the strain on your hips, knees, and back. Even a little weight loss can help. Every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees. Ask your doctor what's the best way for you to get started.

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Man Exercising in Pool
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Don't Stretch Before Exercise

Flexibility helps you move better. Try to stretch daily or at least three times a week. But don't do it when your muscles are cold. Do a light warm-up first, like walking for 10 minutes, to loosen up the joints, ligaments, and tendons around them.

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Man About to Dive in Lake
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Go Low-Impact

Which exercise is good? The best choices are activities that don't pound your joints, like walking, bicycling, swimming, and strength training.

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Woman Doing Leg Stretch
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Flex Some Muscle

Get stronger to give your joints better support. Even a little more strength makes a difference. A physical therapist or certified trainer can show you what moves to do and how to do them. If you have joint problems, avoid quick, repetitive movements.

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Man Doing Range of Motion Exercise
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Work on Your Range

Are your joints too stiff and inflexible? You'll want to get back as much as you can of your "range of motion." That's the normal amount joints can move in certain directions. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises to improve this.

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Woman Stretching at Gym
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Power Up Your Core

Stronger abs and back muscles help your balance, so you're less likely to fall or get injured. Add core (abdominal, back, and hip) strengthening exercises to your routine. Pilates and yoga are great workouts to try.

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Woman With Sore Neck
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Know Your Limits

It's normal to have some aching muscles after you exercise. But if you hurt for more than 48 hours, you may have overstressed your joints. Don't push so hard next time. Working through the pain may lead to an injury or damage.

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Fresh Salmon on Ice
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Eat Fish to Reduce Inflammation

If you have joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, eat more fish. Fatty cold-water types like salmon and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s may help keep joints healthy as well as lower inflammation, a cause of joint pain and tenderness in people with RA. Don't like fish? Try fish oil capsules instead.

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Woman Drinking Glass of Milk
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Keep Your Bones Strong

Calcium and vitamin D can help you do that. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but other options are green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale. If you don't get enough calcium from food, ask your doctor about supplements.

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Woman Maintaining Good Posture at Work
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Target Your Posture

Stand and sit up straight to protect joints all the way from the neck down to your knees. To improve your posture, take a walk. The faster you do it, the harder your muscles work to keep you upright. Swimming can also help.

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Women Shopping and Laughing
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Ease Your Load

Consider your joints when lifting and carrying. Carry bags on your arms instead of with your hands to let your bigger muscles and joints support the weight.

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Soothing Sore Joint With Ice Pack
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Chill Out Pain

Ice is a natural -- and free -- pain reliever. It numbs the hurt and eases swelling. If you have a sore joint, apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can also try a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Never apply ice directly to your skin.

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Couple In Health Food Store
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Supplements? Ask First

Stores are filled with ones that promise to relieve joint pain. Glucosamine and SAM-e have the best research behind them. Talk to your doctor if you want to give supplements a try, so you know about what's safe and what might affect your medicines or health conditions.

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Man with Knee Brace and Crutchesjj
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Treat Joint Injuries

They can add to the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. If you get hurt, see your doctor right away for treatment. Then take steps to avoid more damage. You may need to avoid activities that put too much stress on your joint or use a brace to stabilize it.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2016 Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on October 20, 2016

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

Arthritis Today: "What is Osteoarthritis?"
University of Virginia Health System: "Knee Pain and Problems."
The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: "Osteoarthritis Weight Management."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Weight-Control Information Network: "Do You Know the Risks of Being Overweight?"
The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: "Role of Exercise in the Management of Arthritis."
The Associated Press: "Experts: Forget Pre-Work Out Stretching."
University of Washington School of Medicine: "Exercise and Arthritis."
Arthritis Today: "Fatty Acid Benefits: How Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation."
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: "Osteoarthritis."
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT)."
University of Maryland Medical Center: "Sulfur."
American Council on Exercise: "Injury May Increase Risk of Osteoarthritis."

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on October 20, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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