How to Improve Your Bone and Joint Health
People getting in shape tend to focus on building cardio and muscle strength. That’s a good start, but it’s just as important to keep our bone and joint health in mind.
Maintaining healthy joints is crucial to enjoying just about any physical activity, especially as we age. In honor of Bone and Joint National Action Week (October 12-20 each year), take a moment to be sure you’re following habits that promote the health of bones and joints alike.
These habits include exercising and consuming a well-balanced diet – and many of us could improve in one or both of those areas. According to the United States Bone and Joint Initiative:
- Over half of American adults (54 percent) are affected by musculoskeletal (bone and joint) conditions.
- Musculoskeletal conditions are the number one cause of severe, long-term pain and physical disability worldwide.
- The cost of treatment and lost wages resulting from bone and joint conditions in the U.S. was roughly $874 billionfrom 2009 to 2011.
Countless musculoskeletal conditions can be treated at a specialized facility like MidAmerica Orthopaedics, ranging from back pain and sports injuries to arthritis to osteoporosis. The good news is that there are many things you can do in your day-to-day life to improve your bone and joint health and prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
Consume Nutrients that Support Bone and Joint Health
Simply consuming a balanced diet can provide adequate nutrients for most people. The ideal amounts of nutrients in a given diet will depend on the person’s age and other factors. Because calcium is the main mineral found in bones, getting enough calcium from food is particularly important for maintaining bone health. To maximize calcium absorption for bone health, incorporate a variety of fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods that contain these nutrients into your recipes:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Lean protein
Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet can boost your joint health, as well. Here are some foods known to do just that:
- Red peppers
- Canned salmon
Incorporate Strength Training and Weigh-Bearing Exercises
Targeted strength training will help build and strengthen the muscles around the joints. There are many overall benefits of strength training, including a greater ability to burn fat and improved bone mass. People experiencing a loss in bone density can protect themselves from fractures by adding muscle to their bodies. When you can carry more weight, you’ll have better endurance and will be less prone to bone or joint injuries.
Build up your strength gradually. For the best results, work out three to four days a week. When building muscle, it’s helpful to leave time in between sessions for recovery. And don’t forget to protect those joints. If necessary, work with a trainer or physical therapist, and research proper techniques on your own to avoid joint damage.
Warm Up Before Exercising
Since the most common sports injuries are sprains and strains – followed by fractures – athletes should work joint protection into their exercise routine. A warm-up can help prepare the muscles and joints for the physical movement and impact of any exercise routine. Gentle stretching followed by a proper cardio warm-up is important to protect against the rigor of any sports practice and will help you feel more balanced on the field or court.
Review and Adjust Your Exercise Technique
Even professional athletes need to review their sport or exercise techniques now and then. Improving your posture and technique is important to maintain correct movement and proper body alignment. This can make your bones, muscles, and connective tissue around your joints more resilient and less susceptible to injury. If necessary, seek advice from a personal trainer or coach.
Find an Orthopaedic Specialist
Healthy bones and joints are important whether or not you’re someone who hits the gym for fun. The important thing is to start somewhere, perhaps with a light yoga class.
However, people with a history of injury should seek professional advice first to set appropriate goals and prevent reinjuries. If you have joint pain, back pain, an untreated orthopaedic injury, or a painful foot condition that keeps you from living an active life, it will benefit you to find an orthopaedic specialist. Establishing a relationship with the right specialist will help you address any condition that keeps you from reaching your health goals and feeling your best.
To learn more about protecting and improving your bone and joint health, visit MidAmerica Orthopaedics online. To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedics specialists, call (708) 237-7200. You can also request an appointment online.