6 Ways to Keep Your Bones and Joints Healthy - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 18, 2016

6 Ways to Keep Your Bones and Joints Healthy

Those first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning can be challenging if you’re suffering from stiff and achy joints. That pain can reduce your quality of life and sometimes evolves into more serious medical conditions such as arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. While some factors that put you at risk – like age, gender, and genetics – are beyond your control, you can take proactive steps in other areas of your life to stay healthy and reduce your joint pain.

Do Strengthening Exercises

Regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight and strengthen the muscles and tendons that protect your joints. Doctors recommend 150 minutes of activity per week, which should include aerobic, strength-building and weight-bearing exercises. “Squats and lunges will help build your quadriceps and reduce the stress on your knees, and weight-bearing exercises like walking will build bone density,” says James Costanzo, M.D., orthopedic surgeon for the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership. Vary your routine to avoid overuse injuries, which can lead to joint pain.

Stretch Beforehand

Stretch before you exercise. Stretching will make your tendons more flexible, which will help you avoid problems like inflammation and tendonitis that contribute to joint pain. Focus on stretching exercises both for your upper and lower body, or incorporate yoga or Pilates as part of your regular exercise routine.

Eat Fish, Nuts and Flaxseed

The omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as fish, nuts and flaxseed will reduce inflammation throughout your body, including around your joints. They may also have a positive effect on bone metabolism, which means that eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids will give you stronger, healthier bones. Add a serving of fatty fish such as salmon to your diet to reap the benefits of omega-3s.

Keep Your Weight Down

Being overweight or obese puts extra stress on your joints. A recent study showed that losing one pound of extra weight removes four pounds of pressure on your joints. A moderate weight loss of ten pounds would remove forty pounds of pressure from your knees, easing joint pain and inflammation.

Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D

Bones need calcium to stay strong and vitamin D helps your bones absorb that calcium. Eat foods rich in calcium, such as edamame, dark leafy greens, milk and yogurt. Your body also produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, so get at least 15 minutes of sun exposure (while wearing sunblock) a few times per week.

Stop Smoking

Smoking is bad for your bones. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke cause damage by reducing the blood supply to bones, slowing the production of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts and decreasing the absorption of calcium from your diet. It also breaks down estrogen, which is essential to building and maintaining strong bones in both men and women.

If you do experience bone and joint pain, be careful when using ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain relievers on a regular basis. They can cause complications like excessive bleeding and may interfere with other medications you take regularly. Talk with your doctor about a strategy that will help you keep your bones and joints healthy.

Crozer-Keystone Orthopedic Care

Choose Crozer-Keystone to get you back in motion with a full spectrum of bone, joint and spine services. Our Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership gives you access to the largest orthopedics group in Pennsylvania, providing you with unmatched expertise and experience. To learn more, please visit crozerkeystone.org/Orthopedics.

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