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7 Keys to Better Joint Health



When we think about working out, our muscles are usually top of mind. After all, most of our fitness goals seem to surround our muscles: Add 20-lb. to my back squat. Improve my pulling strength. Improve my pushing strength. Etc.

We do much less thinking about our joints.

Why?

Probably because improving our ankle flexibility or out shoulder stability sounds much less glamorous than boasting a 30-lb. deadlift squat PR.

But then a joint injury happens, and suddenly building strength isnt even an option

It shouldnt take an injury to start prioritizing joint health.

Joint health isnt just concern for those with osteoarthritis or other degenerative joint diseases. We all should all be thinking about our jointsparticularly how to keep those connections to our bones healthy as we age, so that we can continue to be active until were 85 years old.

So, how can we ensure that were doing everything we can to promote healthy joint aging?

Here are a few key tips

Dont sit around

If you already show up to workout three to five days a week, thats a great start. Keeping muscles, bones and ligaments strong goes a long way in keeping your joints strong, too. 

But dont forget the rest of the daywhen youre not at the gym. Simply put, less movement means more stiffness. So dont sit (or stand) for too long in the same position. Whether youre working at a desk or watching Netflix, get up and move around periodically. Your joints will reward you with less stiffness.

Perfect form

Again, this goes without saying, but poor formthings like extending your spine during a shoulder press, or deadlifting or squatting with your knees caving incan lead to joint injuries.

So the next time youre tempted to add more weight to a bar than you might be able to handle with perfect form, stop and think about your joint health.

Posture

Generally speaking, poor posture is not good for your joints. Ensuring good posture throughout the day (standing and sitting up straight) will go a long way to keeping your joints feeling strong.

Avoid slouching at all costs! If you spend a lot of time at a desk, make a mental note to correct your posture throughout the day. You can even set a reminder on your phone

Warm-up!

How much better do you feel lifting or conditioning when youre properly warmed up? Best case scenario, show up 15 to 20 minutes before your personal training session or class and prep the joints that will be most taxed that day. 

If youre not sure what to do, talk to your coach and come up with a warm-up plan that gets you best ready for training.

Core is key

A strong core goes a long way in preventing injuries. Adding some core accessory workfocusing on your abs, low back, hamstrings and glutesto the end of your training sessions is a good idea. Again, if youre not sure what to do, ask your coach for a core training plan.

Healthy weight

This one might go without saying, but if youre overweight, losing weight might be the most important thing you can do for your joints. Carrying around extra weight is hard on your knees, hips and back, which support that excess weight. 

Even losing a few pounds can make a difference, as pressure is reduced from those weight-bearing joints, and your risk of injury decreases.

Diet, diet, diet

While diet is always controversial, science says food that helps reduce inflammation goes a long way in helping joint health. Foods like Omega-3 rich fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) or fish oil supplements, leafy free vegetables, such as spinach and kale, whole grains, such as brown rice, and nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios, are all good for reducing inflammation and promoting joint health.

When it comes to joints, the old adage holds true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'

In other words, dont wait until youre injured to start thinking about your joints.