You might be surprised by how much your joints do for you—until wear and tear forces them to stop. When that happens, you’ll become painfully aware of just how much you rely on them - literally. From simple tasks around the house to rigorous training, your joints help you bend, run and lift. When they’re sore and aching, even basic movements can be taxing.
Protecting your joints will help keep them strong and allow you to reap the full benefits of working out and leading an active lifestyle. Plus, the stronger your joints are, the easier it is to stay active, as well as physically fit as you get older. Here are some steps you can take to keep yours healthy and functioning smoothly.
TAKE A LOAD OFF
It might sound obvious but, the heavier you are, the more stress you put on your joints and the quicker they wear down. In fact, every extra pound you gain puts four times more stress on your knees. Maintaining a healthy weight via a balanced diet and regular exercise will minimize the amount of strain you put on your joints every day.
FIND SOME FLEXIBILITY
Work on improving your flexibility by making pre- and post-workout stretching a regular part of your exercise routine. Increased flexibility can help broaden the range of motion around your joints, which fights off stiffness and helps you remain injury-free. Dynamic stretches, which are stretches that are done while you are moving, are ideal for a warmup because they activate the muscles you are about to use in your workout. Before exercising, spend a few minutes doing moves like forward lunges with a twist and knee-pulls toward your chest. Static stretches require you to hold a position for at least 10-30 seconds and are ideal post-exercise because they should be done when your muscles are warm and limber. When you finish your workout, spend a few minutes cooling down with toe touches and side bends.
CLEAR YOUR MIND
Mental stress can be unavoidable, but the more you can minimize yours, the better. To quickly de-stress, take a few minutes every day to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Establishing a healthy sleep pattern and regular workout routine can also help alleviate stress. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C, which gives added support to your immune system and helps your body synthesize collagen. For maximum benefits, try to consume at least 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily via foods like oranges, papayas, bell peppers and broccoli—or consider taking a daily multivitamin.
SUPPORT HEALTHY INFLAMMATION RESPONSE
When your joints swell, it’s uncomfortable and can make movement difficult. Eating a diet of healthy, antioxidant-rich foods can help fight free radicals. Aim for fatty fish like salmon and trout, which have beneficial amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA and can support your body’s natural anti-inflammatory response and joint health. Blueberries, cherries, leafy greens, almonds and tomatoes are also foods that fight free radicals. Even if you think you are getting enough, incorporating dietary supplements like antioxidants and fish oil into your diet can ensure you are hitting your target and getting optimal health benefits.
GET SOME HERBAL SUPPORT
You have probably already heard of turmeric and tamarind seed; turmeric is a spice commonly used in Asian food, and tamarind is often used in Middle Eastern recipes. For centuries, these ingredients have been used in traditional medicine to support many health goals, due to their antioxidant properties. But recently, these ingredients have been shown to help reduce joint discomfort following exercise and daily activities, and support joint health.^* Unlike other joint health supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin, formulas containing turmeric and tamarind seed are a vegetarian-friendly, shellfish-free option – making them a fit for your lifestyle, no matter what dietary concerns you may have.
^ In a randomized, double-blinded trial, 90 healthy adults took 125 mg of TamaFlex™ or placebo twice daily for 90 days. Those taking TamaFlex™ had improved (i) joint comfort, stiffness and function (WOMAC), (ii) walking speed and distance, (iii) use of stairs and (iv) range of motion in the joint. Improvements were seen as early as 2 weeks for all outcomes but joint function (as early as 1 month). * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.