End of joint pain a few steps away

Creaky joints come with age, but there are ways you can minimise the toll life takes on your body. All you have to do is avoid these 11 common ways in which you’re weakening your joints.

1. Poor posture
It may seem comfortable at the time, but when you slouch or slump in your chair, or walk with your shoulders hunched and your head down, this works against your body’s natural posture, putting pressure on your joints and muscles, and wearing them out.

So, focus on keeping your back straight, your head up and your shoulders relaxed.

2. Don’t ignore pain
It’s not all about ‘no pain, no gain’, you know. Sure, a little bit of muscle soreness proves you’ve worked out a bit beyond your body’s comfort zone, which isn’t all bad. But if the soreness lasts for days, you need to either ease up on physical activity or see your doctor, because extended soreness means you’ve pushed your joints, tendons and muscles too far.

3. Letting your weight go wild
Believe it or not, something has to carry that extra weight around and the poor body parts that cops the most work are, you guessed it, your joints. Your skeleton is designed to carry a certain amount of weight, so every extra kilo you put on strains your bones, tendons and muscles, causing damage that results in aches, pains and problems down the line. For every 450g of body weight, there’s almost 2kg of stress on your knees. Being overweight also contributes to inflammation, which will most likely lead to swollen, painful hands, wrists and ankles. So keep the weight down and you’ll feel a lot better and live a lot longer.

4. Wearing the wrong shoes
Let’s face it: high heels weren’t designed with comfort in mind, and nor are they in your body’s best interests. They’re around to make you look taller and to make your butt ‘pop’. But all this focus on aesthetics wreaks havoc on your body. The higher heels go, the more weight goes to the tips of your toes, which means your thigh muscles have to work harder putting a heap of pressure on your knees just to keep them straight. Basically, the more you wear heels, the sooner you’ll have problems such as osteoarthritis, knee and/or hip replacement surgery. So weigh up how important it is for you to look a few centimetres taller.

Also, worn-out shoes won’t support your feet and ankles, so if you think you’re saving a few bob by eking out the last breaths on an old pair of sneakers, think about the cost of medical bills, and you’ll quickly realise a small investment in a well-fitting pair of shoes will save you more in the long run.

5. Acting the pack horse
Constantly carrying too much weight around, such as in your handbag, backpack or any other bag, causes neck, shoulder and back pain that can manifest into far worse problems. The constant pull on one side of your body throws out your back and forces muscles to compensate, tiring out your joints. So, take out the unnecessary items from your bag and travel light – your joints will thank you for it.

6. Sleeping on your stomach
Lying on your stomach when you sleep can be quite comfortable and may stop you from snoring, but it’s no good for the rest of your body. Stomach sleepers lay in the same position longer during the night, putting pressure on their necks and stretching tendons on one side of their head for longer periods. This leads to other muscles compensating and a weakening of joints.

7. Not getting enough sleep
Not sleeping well may trigger inflammation in your body, which makes it tougher for your joints and muscles to work effectively. More studies are being conducted on sleep/joint theory, but in the meantime, getting quality sleep is certain to have a generally positive effect on your overall health, so don’t wait for the study results.

8. Not stretching and strength training
A few minutes of stretching each day will help to strengthen your muscles and tendons, making you more flexible and easing the pressure on your joints.

Same goes for strength training. The muscle you build from strength training slows bone loss and triggers new growth. This means you’ll be stronger; your bones will be denser and harder to break, and your joints will be more stable, allowing them to move freely and work as nature intended.

9. Cracking your knuckles
While medical studies have proven this won’t lead to arthritis, cracking your knuckles can weaken your grip and lead to swelling in your hands.

10. Using the wrong muscles
Be wary of using the wrong muscles for any job. It’s not just about lifting heavy objects using your knees instead of your back either. Even pushing a door with your fingers instead of your shoulder can put strain on the joints in your hands. Also, focus on carrying bags and other objects with your palms instead of your fingers, and if there’s a tool you can use to ease your burden – such as a well-designed backpack or trolley – use it!

11. Too much computer time
Okay, so now that you’ve read this, stand up, stretch your neck and shake out your shoulders. Too much computer time – or sitting in general – can cause back, neck, shoulder and elbow pain. It can also lead to stiff hips and legs. When you sit, try to take the pressure off your shoulders and neck. Sit straight, don’t slouch! (Gee, this sounds like being back in school!) Make sure you get up at regular intervals and move your body about to get the blood flowing and to reset your muscles and joints.

Same goes for using your smart device. Too much texting can lead to ‘text thumb’ and ‘text neck’ (yes, these are now medical conditions). Constantly tapping texts and scrolling on your phone can lock your thumb tendons forcing your thumb into a permanently curled position. And every couple of centimetres that your head tilts forward puts increased pressure on your neck to support the weight of your head, leading to back problems, and painful shoulders and upper back. So, put your phone away and go for a walk!

Read more at WebMD

Do you suffer from joint pain? Do you follow advice such as this? Do you wish you had? What advice can you give to others who experience joint pain?

Related articles:
Do your joints go snap, crackle and pop?
Best foods for healthy joints
Seven ways to alleviate joint pain

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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