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Anxious About Arthritis? Six Ways to Take Care of Your Joints

 width=Whatever your age, it makes good sense to look after your joints to keep them in good shape for years to come. Joints are surprisingly important in the bigger picture, allowing you to do all the movements necessary between your bones – bending your knees, arching your back, moving your fingers, swinging those hips and turning your head.

What happens if you neglect to look after your joints?

Aging, being overweight, injuries, bad posture, lack of sleep and of course general wear and tear can all take their toll. 1. Aging should not mean slowing down but rather get moving. Swimming, cycling and walking are all excellent exercises for the joints whatever your age but don't forget to warm up and stretch the muscles first. Swimming is particularly helpful for joint health because it is low impact, relaxes stiff muscles and isn't weight-bearing. Swimming also increases circulation. When the human body is submerged in water, it automatically becomes lighter. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight and the further beneath the water, the less weight you bear. Part of keeping moving is not to be slouching on the couch for hours or sitting at a desk and computer without getting up regularly to walk around or stretch. When you exercise, stop and rest if you find your joints or muscles are feeling sore. 2. Obesity or even being overweight will put loads of strain on your joints and most people in this position will struggle with their knees and/or their backs. Just to put it into perspective, every extra kilo or pound aggravates the amount of stress on your knees. The more pressure on the joints, the more pain you may have, and the faster the joint deteriorates. Making a concerted effort to lose weight will help to ease the strain on your joints and particularly the pressure off the knees when you walk. It is the single most important step you can take 3. Injury can often be the start of problems with joints and then arthritis. Use ice as an effective drug-free pain reliever if you are injured. It will numb pain and relieve joint swelling. Use a small pack of frozen peas or other veggies (wrapped in a cloth) for an instant and pliable ice pack to apply to the affected area several times a day for as long as it takes. 4. Bad posture also puts stress and strain on the joints. Deep breathing where you concentrate on standing up straight and developing good posture is the way to protect your joints from your neck right down to your ankles. At the same time, this will lessen any strain on the hip joints and the back - which is the core of your system. Always lift by bending with your knees and don't lift anything too heavy however tempting. Good posture will minimize the stress on your joints as well as the spine. As you stand, keep your weight evenly distributed between both feet and keep your shoulders drawn back and down to lift and broaden your chest. Your chin should be parallel with the ground. To help keep good posture imagine a string attached to the top of your head gently lifting you up. Also consider the positions and movement you take and make, as holding one position too long, or making certain movements, can put extra pressure on affected joints. 5. Wear and tear can be addressed by changing to a more nutritious diet complete with plenty of calcium-rich foods to maintain bone density along with ensuring you are not vitamin D deficient while taking extra vitamin C and antioxidants. There are lots of steps you can take to reduce the risk of arthritis. Look for raw dairy products including milk, butter and yogurt along with molasses, broccoli and figs for extra calcium. Bone broth is a wonderful way to improve bone health. You will find my full bone broth recipe here. Ensure your diet is also rich in other vitamins and minerals including vitamin E while eating plenty of fruits (especially bananas and cherries) and vegetables plus Brewer's yeast, wheat germ, garlic, whole grains, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, raw walnuts and Brazil nuts. The fatty acids in fish like salmon, mackerel and herring from safe sources, as well as cod liver oil, will reduce the activity of enzymes that are responsible for damaging the protective cartilage. 6. Sleep also rests your joints while reducing any pain and swelling. Most people need 7 to 9 hours sleep per night – you might find you need even 10. Rest is as important as exercise. Take a brief nap after lunch to help restore your energy and spirits but if you any have trouble sleeping at night or suffer from insomnia, then relax quietly in the afternoon instead. Keep your body moving to optimize your joint health and the bonus will be that your mind will keep moving too.   ­