Although you can damage your joint with an injury, “bad joints” are also a common consequence of your lifestyle. Years of engaging in bad habits can set you up for arthritic battles and joint replacement as an older adult. First, you need to educate yourself on which lifestyle habits are bad for your joints, and then try to outweigh those with some healthier habits.
Your diet. You may not think that what you put in your mouth could affect your hip, shoulder or knee joints, but it certainly can. Did you know that highly processed foods can cause inflammation in the joints? Furthermore, high amounts of carbs and sugar can inflame the muscle surrounding your joints. Instead, choose a well-rounded diet with lots of fruits and veggies and never skimp on your calcium and Vitamin D. Be sure to drink 8-12 glasses of water per day to rehydrate your joints from the daily loading.
Your posture. Are you hunched over and texting all day? Do you carry a heavy tote or purse on one shoulder? Perhaps your job requires you to put unnecessary strain on your knees when lifting. These are habits that you need to be careful about. While carrying a heavy purse around for a single day won’t cause joint damage, it can certainly be the culprit if you do it for months or years on end. If you do have a job that seems to put extra strain on your joints, ask your physician (or your boss) about ways you can avoid improper repetitive movements or if a supportive brace can help. Compression sleeves can be an excellent choice for sports or everyday activities, as they promote blood circulation in the muscles around the joints and help your injuries to heal.
Your activity level. Your joints were designed to move. So although it may be feel stiff or painful to move your knees or hips after hours of sitting at your desk, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to rest more. In fact, it probably is a sign that you are not moving enough. Find ways to get physical exercise in every day. If you have a desk job, walk around the parking lot during your lunch break to promote healthier joints. You don’t have to go out and run a marathon; choose a joint-friendly sport like swimming or biking, especially if you already experience joint problems.
If you’ve waited too late to correct those bad joint habits, it doesn’t mean you are destined for joint replacement surgery. Talking with your physician sooner rather than later can ensure you begin the most effective, yet conservative, treatment option. At Manhattan Sports Therapy, we specialize in helping patients correct the bad habits that are impacting their joint health, such as poor posture or improper mechanics during exercise. Call today to speak with one of our talented physical therapists to learn how you can restore and protect your knees, shoulders, hips and other joints.