Don’t get disjointed.
Healthy joints allow you to play sports, exercise and keep up with daily tasks. Unfortunately, about 1 in 5 American adults have been diagnosed by a doctor with arthritis, which is the swelling of one or more joints.
To help avoid pain and limitations to movement and flexibility, experts shared with the Guardian five simple tips for maintaining healthy joints as you age.
Build strength across the body
Liam Goode, a London-based physiotherapist, recommends completing a variety of full-body strength training workouts, like pilates and yoga, to engage all muscles and joints instead of overworking certain ones.
“Find your starting point with the aim of building up to regularly move your joints in as full a range of motion as possible, such as squatting to get your bottom as close to the ground as you can,” Goode told the Guardian.
“Ultimately, if the cartilage surrounding our joints doesn’t move enough, it won’t get enough blood flow and it will dry out and crack,” he continued while touting the benefits of a yoga flow routine for people in their 20s.
Move every 20 to 30 minutes
“Ideally during working hours, especially if you are seated for most of the day, try to move away from your workstation every 20-30 minutes,” John Mallinder, an osteopath, told the Guardian.
He advises stepping away from your desk even if it’s just for walking, making coffee or chatting with your colleagues.
“By breaking our routine we can become aware of our posture when we sit again and avoid the negative impact of prolonged periods in one position,” he noted.
“Exercise snacks” — about a minute or two of physical activity — can make a difference in your health.
Strengthen your shoulders
“The shoulder is inherently the most unstable joint in the body and relies heavily on muscular structure to offer support and stability,” explained Anju Jaggi, the clinical director of therapies at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
Exercising the arms often will help strengthen the shoulder joints, as will focusing on grip strength.
“If you work on your grip, it will have a knock-on effect for helping your shoulder,” Jaggi said.
Clenching your hand into a tight fist and then opening your fingers as far as they’ll go about 10 to 15 times a day is a simple and effective movement to improve your grip.
Wear proper footwear
Some experts insist that everyone should wear solid, broad-soled sneakers for every occasion.
“The optimal shoe is structured and lace-up; if you have flat feet, you need arch support for stability and with high-arch feet you need a more neutral running shoe,” Nick Cullen, a consultant orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, told the Guardian.
For heel-loving fashionistas, Cullen recommends opting for a shorter heel or wedge to help distribute the pressure placed on the balls of the feet.
Slouch if you need to
“Since every body is different, there is no true neutral when it comes to posture,” said Aoife O’Meara, a musculoskeletal physiotherapist.
O’Meara explained that spending all day sitting upright causes your back and core muscles to work overtime, which can eventually be painful.
To avoid discomfort, everyone should change their posture every 30 to 40 minutes when seated.
“It is safe to slouch, since there is no evidence that it will cause harm when you move regularly,” O’Meara said.