Anything you use all day, for decades, will show signs of wear and tear. The cartilage between your
bones is one example. According to Angelie Mascarinas, MD, physiatrist at the Hospital for Special
Surgery, the risk of osteoarthritis increases with age. We can’t slow down the march of time but you can take care of your joints with lifestyle changes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about fifty percent of people over 65 have arthritis, and osteoarthritis is the most common type. To help with overall well being, here are ten habits that can wreck joint health.
Nonstop Texting (And Other Repetitive Activities)
You can stress your joints by repeatedly typing, texting, dicing food, and other repetitive motions. There
is such a thing as ‘texting thumb.’ The tendons can get irritated, locking your thumb. Your neck and
shoulders suffer too from all that phone looking. Each inch you bend forward increases your muscle
Your neck must support the weight of five heads instead of just one if you bend it so far your chin
touches your chest. Zacharia Isaac, MD, medical director of Brigham and Women’s Multidisciplinary
Spine Center, says to take breaks every 2 to 3 minutes.
If your joints are not feeling great, avoid the activity. Try calling instead of texting and use a headset for
Being Physically Inactive
Sedentary lifestyles can damage your joints. Moving more is a necessity for almost everyone. An
Arthritis & Rheumatology study, that followed more than 1.7 million people for more than four years,
found that extra pounds are hard on your joints, especially in the hips, hands, and knees.
Long periods in one position can tire your muscles and strain your joints, partly because blood flow to
these areas decreases if you aren’t moving. Knees are particularly vulnerable. Exercise for 30 minutes
five days a week to counteract the above. Walking, water aerobics and swimming are easy on the joints.
Stretch or change positions every 10 to 15 minutes if you’re standing, reading, or working at a
Lugging A Big Bag – 10 Habits That Can Wreck Joint Health
When you pack too much in your bag, it makes your neck and shoulders sore. A heavy bag throws off
your balance and your walking. Constantly pulling on one side will overstretch your muscles and tire
your joints. The body will tell you loud and clear if you do that daily.
Suppose you carry too much in your bag. According to Laser Spine Institute medical director Michael
Perry, MD, it may alter your posture and walking stride, strain your neck muscles and joints, and even
compress your delicate nerves.
When you’re carrying a full purse, weigh it. The amount should be less than 5%. If you weigh 140 lbs,
that’s 7 pounds. You can carry more weight in a backpack than a purse because it distributes weight
more evenly. Perry says it’s too heavy if it hurts or makes you sore.
Exercises that build and strengthen supportive muscles around the joints can be especially protective.
The Cleveland Clinic’s rheumatology department chair, Abby Goulder-Abelson, MD, says working your
quads can help protect your knees.
According to Abelson, strength training is recommended every week. Body weight exercises or lifting
weights are examples. Abelson says some types of yoga are too gentle to work as strength training. Do
you have any questions about exercising safely? Create a workout plan with a certified personal trainer
or physical therapist.
Ignoring Your Joints
Abelson advises not to ignore joint pain that has persisted for more than a week: It is your body’s way of telling you something. Consult your doctor instead. Symptoms like tenderness, stiffness, and swelling can indicate a more severe problem, so you should talk to your doctor.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations. Orthopedic spine surgeon Michael Gleiber, MD, of
Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, says that taking action now can restore normal function
and even prevent more serious problems down the road.
Overdoing Exercise – 10 Habits That Can Wreck Joint Health
Weekend warriors, take note: stuffing your joints with a week’s worth of exercise isn’t good for them.
David Porter, M.D., an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon in Indianapolis, says there’s a happy medium
between exercising muscles and not overstressing our joints.
Exercise and strength training can keep arthritis at bay. Find your sweet spot with a mix of aerobics and
strength training. Weight-training exercises can be effective for 70-, 80-, and 90-year-olds, Porter says.
Exercises like walking up and down stairs and getting up from a chair are more manageable with more
Skimping On Calcium and Vitamin D
Abelson says that strong bones require calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies have also been
linked to weakened muscles. You can get vitamin D from foods such as salmon, cereals, and drinks
fortified with the vitamin. You can also drink fortified beverages such as almond or soy milk if you need
calcium. If you believe you might need a supplement or are unsure if you are getting enough, consult
Not Sleeping Enough
You can benefit significantly from getting a good night’s sleep. Exercise regularly and cut out caffeine at
least six hours before bedtime. To ensure you’re getting a good night’s rest, speak to your doctor if you
still have trouble sleeping.
Check to make sure your mattress is not too saggy. Based on a Lancet study, medium-firm models were most effective at preventing back pain.
Eating Foods That Contribute to Inflammation – 10 Habits That Can Wreck Joint Health
Mascarinas claims they worsen joint pain. There are the usual suspects: red meat, white sugar, French
fries, soda, and pastries. Those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil and cold-water fish like mackerel and salmon, are anti-inflammatory and can soothe inflamed joints.
Those who suffer from knee or hand osteoarthritis should also eat leafy greens, pistachios, and almonds, suggest a study published in Rheumatology. According to her, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, fiber, and magnesium are anti-inflammatory.
Those suffering from joint pain should incorporate foods like olive oil, berries, and fish into their diet.
Limiting red meat, sugar, and dairy also helps to reduce joint pain.
Smoking causes heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. Furthermore, smoking can also negatively impact your bones and joints. Ultimately, smoking slows your body’s healing process as it weakens bones and makes muscles take longer to recover. It also negatively affects bone-forming cells, which is why bones heal slowly. As a result, smokers who heal are likely to suffer complications afterward. Obese individuals also tend to suffer from muscle tears and chronic tendons inflammation.