7 Ways to Protect Your Joints

While arthritis may be unavoidable for some, many of us could be doing more to keep our joints safe. Whether you've been diagnosed with arthritis or are looking for ways to prevent it, here are some simple ways to be good to your joints:

  • Don't pile on the pounds. If you're carrying around excess weight, make every effort to take it off. Heavier bodies cause greater stress on joints, especially the lower ones such as hips, back, knees, and feet. Losing even a few pounds can make a great difference.
  • Get a move on. Although it may sometimes be the last thing you feel like doing, exercise benefits your joints by helping keep the muscles surrounding them in top condition. If your muscles are strong, they can prevent the joints from rubbing against each other. Try to move each of your affected joints through its full range of motion at least once daily.
  • Forget risky activities. Yes, you need to move your body but not in ways that stress it too much. If the last time you ran a lap around a track was in high school, don't lace up your running shoes with the intent to cover three or four miles. Start slow and be safe. Walking, swimming, yoga, and weight training are all ideal for troubled joints.
  • Use your biggest, strongest joints when possible. Need to carry a small jar? Place it in your open palm, utilizing all of the forearm joints, instead of grasping it with your fingers. Try sliding boxes or other objects along a counter instead of lifting them. If you need to open stubborn doors, use a loop pull so you don't strain your fingers.
  • Take it easy. Don't be a couch potato, but do learn how to alternate periods of activity and rest. Resting helps you avoid overworking problem joints.
  • Switch it up. Don't stay in one position for a long period of time-it can cause your joints to stiffen up. Get up every hour or two if you're sitting. If you're using your hands, such as at a keyboard, stop every 15 minutes and flex your fingers.
  • Stand tall. Slumping puts pressure on the joints in your neck, back, knees, and hips. Make good posture a habit.




Arthritis Foundation, www.arthritis.org.