Nine tips to improve and protect joint health

Friday, August 7, 2020
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of arthritis, and it can involve almost any part of your body, most often your knees, hips, spine and other weight-bearing joints, but also smaller joints like fingers and toes. People of all ages can get arthritis, although it is more common as we age. It is possible to manage arthritis effectively. Here are nine helpful tips for people with arthritis to improve and protect their joint health.
1. When handling heavy loads, use your largest, strongest joints and muscles to take the stress off smaller joints and to spread the load over larger surface areas. Hold heavy items close to your body, which is less stressful for your joints.

2. Build strong bones by boosting your calcium intake. This helps to keep your bones sturdy. You can get calcium through your diet from dairy, broccoli, kale, figs, salmon, or, when you need an extra nutrient top up, through calcium supplements. 

3. Choose fruits and veggies in a wide range of colours to maximise your intake of nutrients such as fibre, disease-fighting antioxidants and an abundance of phytochemicals. 

4. Omega 3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel can help keep your joints healthy and may reduce the pain and inflammation of stiff joints in people with arthritis. Alternatively, supplement your diet with fish oil capsules.

5. Stretch more. Stretch in the morning, and take breaks over the day, including at work. This will help you to get re-energised and keep your muscles and joints flexible.

6. Try low weight-bearing exercises such as cycling, exercycling, strength training or walking on a treadmill. Using water to keep active is another wonderful option. Swimming and aquatic exercises allow you to keep doing many activities while taking a load off your joints.

7. High-impact exercises like kickboxing, step aerobics and more can be tough on joints. Low-impact alternatives can offer the same calorie-burning benefits without the pain. 

8. Take care with repetitive movements in your day-to-day life, like truck drivers jumping down from cabs, or farmers jumping off farm equipment.

9. Monitor how you’re feeling after exercise. Joints still aching two hours after your workout is telling you something. Listen to your body and ease up on your routine when you need a break.

Bonus tip: Every extra kilogram you gain puts more stress on your weight-bearing joints. A small weight loss gives weight-bearing joints relief. Losing just five kilos may improve joint health and cut your risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent!


Arthritis NZ

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