It’s a vicious cycle. Joints ache and are stiff, too painful to move. The thought of standing up due to knee pain can daunting. Bending over to retrieve that dropped item seems like the risks outweigh the benefits. Doing that computer work while your wrists throb and your hands go numb- well, is it really worth it? However- if you don’t move those joints they are going to stiffen even more. There is really no way to win…is there?
The key to keeping the mobility you have is movement. You must move the joints or they will quit working. Muscles will shrink. Cartilage will lose its sponginess and ability to cushion the joints. How do you move when the joints scream out, though? Well, there are a few things you can do to help ease the pain and stiffness. Start by stretching in the mornings. 5-10 minutes of slow stretching, legs, arms, back, neck and ankles, before getting out of bed will get the synovial juices flowing. Synovial fluid is the ‘grease’ that lubricates the joint. Everyday activities like walking, making the bed and playing with the dog are all good ways to keep the joints moving.
Keeping mobile is very important, especially as you age. Weight-bearing exercises like walking and lifting free-weights will help keep the joints in tip-top condition. Knees are usually the first joints to suffer damage from wear and tear. Prevent joint and wrist pain while exercising by choosing the right activities. Swimming, water aerobics and cycling are all easy on the knees. Joint pain can be alleviated or reduced by exercising at least three times a week.
Joint support can come in the form of elastic sleeves for ankles and knees, foam wrist supports to reduce wrist pain while working on the computer, or it can come from the foods and supplements a person takes. Salmon, avocado, nuts and flaxseed can all be consumed to help insulate cells and fight inflammation. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin keep the cartilage healthy and promote nutrients and water to the cartilage.
Some people do not want to rely on pain medications such as Ibuprofen for joint pain. The side effects of the medications can cause more problems. For these people, alternatives like acupuncture and massage are great pain-relief options. Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. Nerve bundles that send pain messages to the brain are blocked with acupuncture. Trigger points are manipulated and endorphins are released. The result is an overall good feeling of the mind and body.
Massage works to manipulate muscles and joints to release tension. Toxins trapped within the muscles and joints are released. A trained massage therapist knows how to move shoulders, knees and fingers to help ease pain and stiffness. Hot rocks, warmed oils, and aromas are used to relax and promote well-being. Specialized techniques like sports massage and deep-tissue massage concentrate on specific areas of the body. The result is muscles that are free-moving and joints that feel wonderful.
One of the best ways to prevent joint damage and pain is to keep the core strong. Pilates and yoga will tighten the abdominal muscles. Posture will straighten and balance will improve. Joints will be properly aligned, lessening the risks of damage. Muscles will be toned and strong. Yoga also reduces tension- another win!
Your attitude also plays a huge part in your health. Embrace aging with grace by making a plan to contribute to your health. Commit to exercising, eating right and maintaining a good weight. Realize that you can be mobile and active well into the Golden Years with a little dedication and perseverance. Plan now to be active later on in life.