Do you know what happens to your joints as you age? Read here to learn the effects of aging on joints, what causes joint pain, and what you can do to protect joints & prevent joint pain.
A human body has more than 200 joints, ranging from as small as in our fingers to as large like our knees.
In simple words, a joint is the place where two bones meet. At the meeting point the bones are cushioned by cartilage that pads ends of the bones. The joint is surrounded by synovial membranes with a lubricating fluid inside the joint (synovial fluid). These components act as connectors between our bones, preventing the bones from rubbing together, and enabling us to bend and twist.
Effect Of Aging On The Joints
It’s important for you to understand how your joints change, as you get older. Whereas for men the signs of joint pain can start appearing before age 45, the women are likely to see them after age 50.
Aging causes wear & tear of the connective tissues & cartilage. This leads to thinning of cartilage causing joint discomforts & chronic pain like osteoarthritic.
Also as you grow old, you tend to lose muscle mass. Joints have to compensate for this loss by absorbing the impacts of day-to-day life physical activities, leading to further erosion of the cartilage and joint damage.
How To Protect Joints & Avoid Joint Pains As You Age?
Prevention is better than cure! To keep the joint-pain at bay later in your life, it’s recommended that you take preventive measures early – before onset of the joint pains.
Here are the recommended 6 ways to protect your joints and avoid joint pain, as you get older.
Wrong posture put our joints at tremendous risk. Slouching – whether standing or sitting – puts great pressure on our joints in the wrong places. Doing so for long periods of time everyday – such as at our job – results into straining & damaging of our joints. If you find it difficult keeping your spine straight the whole time, begin by keeping it straight for some time, and then relax.
Also keep in mind, lifting heavy objects using your back rather than your legs is another bad way that can leads to joints damage. Remember to stretch your muscles before doing heavy lifting.
Physical activities keep our joints moving and healthy. On the other hand, sedentary life-style causes your joints to get stiff, making even the day-to-day routine movements painful. Low-impact exercises like walking, biking and swimming are some effective ways to maintain our joints well lubricated. Strength training is another effective method. This builds up the muscles, which will support your joints. Take care to start with lighter weight and fewer repetitions until you build up enough strength & stamina.
The excess is your body weight; the more pressure will be on your joints. Weight adds up the stress on your joints, particularly on the knees and lower back. Experts claim that every extra pound of your bodyweight puts 4 times more pressure on your knees – because they support your entire bodyweight. Our joints are only meant for carrying a certain weight for our frames, and adding more weight on them than that can speed up the natural wear and tear process on your joints, leading to inflammation and knee/lower back pains.
Eat the Right Foods
On one hand the right diet helps you maintain healthy weight, on the other there are lots of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, and yet taste great. Leafy greens and berries are just some of the natural options to help you stave off joint pains. The more you eat a healthy diet, the more likely you are to have healthy weight.
Drink Lots of Water
Keep yourself hydrated by drinking adequate water. Carry a water bottle whenever you go out. Remember to drink extra when you’re working out to compensate for what you lose through sweating. If you don’t keep your body hydrated, your body will have no choice but to pull water from the cartilages, and other areas to hydrate itself. As cartilages need water to remain lubricated, the lack of enough water in the cartilages leads to its faster deterioration.
Caution: Sugary drinks and alcohol dehydrate your body, which can damage your joints. Keep in mind to avoid such drinks, replace them with water so as to provide hydration to your joints, which they need to stay healthy.
Smoking enhances inflammation, which contributes to joint pains. It also changes the manner in which the brain processes pain. Such a change causes smokers to be less aware of the pain they’re going through until its effects disappear. In case you are already suffering from a condition such as osteoarthritis, the smoking is likely to worsen the condition. Make efforts to get rid of or curtail this bad habit and you’ll soon start experiencing fewer and less painful bouts of joint pains.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Health Coach. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”