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Protect your joints and limit further damage and inflammation during exercise.
Training tips to avoid joint problems
Whether you are already feeling the onset of sore and stiff joints after exercise or you suffer from mild osteoarthritis or you are just trying to avoid joint pain as you age, there are some simple things you can do to protect your joints and limit inflammation during exercise.
1. LEARN TO LIFT
Whether it be in the gym, at the workplace or around the house, you need to learn how to lift heavy objects safely. Learning to lift heavy objects appropriately can not only save your back, but it can also save your joints. For heavy objects that are placed on the ground, squat down and lift with your legs rather than your back. If you feel strain or pressure in your knees or hips, stop and ask someone for help. When carrying heavy objects, hold them close to your body so your core takes the pressure rather than elbow and shoulder joints.
2. RECOGNISE OVER-USE
Suffering joint pain after prolonged use? Chances are you may be suffering a minor joint injury or an over-use injury. With injury, the fluids and cartilage that protect the joint can become damaged. This, in turn, can allow the bones to rub against each other and further injure the joint. If you have unexpected / sudden joint pain, try to limit use and see a health professional as soon as possible. Continuing to use an injured joint can make the injury worse and may cause permanent or more severe damage.
3. STAY TRIM, STAY STRONG
Retaining a healthy body weight is important to protect your joints. Each kilogram you lose means up to 4 kilograms less pressure on your knees, hips and ankles as you walk… lose 12 kilograms and that’s nearly 50 kilos less pressure! Furthermore, focusing on maintaining strength through regular exercise or resistance training can help stabilise joints, meaning less wear and tear and lower chance of injury.
4. GO FOR LOW IMPACT EXERCISES
Exercise has so many critical benefits for our health, and it would be a shame to let sore joints or arthritis stop us from enjoying those benefits. However, exercise can often be damaging to joints: we have already mentioned that walking adds 4 kilograms of pressure per kilogram of body weight to our joints. Running adds an extra 10 kilograms of joint pressure per kilogram of body weight! The more pressure we place on a joint, the more wear and tear we get on the protective tissues in the joint. The more damage to the protective tissues, the greater the chance of permanent damage and arthritis. Low impact exercises like pilates or cycling can be more friendly for joints… see our article on exercises for arthritis sufferers for more ideas of low-impact exercises to help protect your joints.
5. FEED YOUR JOINTS
There are two nutrients that can feed your joints and promote healthy joint repair by supporting connective tissues in the joints. Glucosamine and Chondroitin work well in tandem to actively feed your joints and promote cartilage health… cartilage is important for protecting your joints and acting as a shock absorber.