Top 10 Tips to Maintain Healthy Joints
Are you struggling with joint aches and pains? Do you feel stiff and battle to extend your range of motion?
You don't have to have arthritis for joint pain and stiffness to cause problems; it's surprisingly common among active chaps! Repetitive movements, intense exercise, poor posture, injuries, and certain lifestyle factors often result in joint pain, affecting your quality of life.
In this article, we'll give you tips to maintain healthy joints and keep you moving smoothly as you age!
1. Supplement with Glucosamine
Consider taking glucosamine; it's one of the best joint support supplements backed by countless studies!
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring component of healthy cartilage. However, its production declines as you age, leading cartilage to wear down and causing pain and inflammation. You can boost levels of glucosamine by consuming a healthy diet that contains bone broth and plenty of protein, but it also helps to take a supplement! Research shows it's even useful for those with jaw pain stemming from the temporomandibular joint (1).
2. Supplement with Chondroitin
As with glucosamine, chondroitin is also a building block for healthy, elastic cartilage – the two are often found together in joint supplements. A 2018 meta-analysis found that taking regular chondroitin supplements reduced pain and improved joint function (2).
3. Try Omega-3s
If you're battling with achy joints and stiffness, you may have inflammation in your body. Luckily, omega-3 fatty acids can help – these essential fats are potent anti-inflammatories! They help to protect you from painful joints, relieve morning stiffness, and encourage ease of movement (3).
Omega-3 isn't synthesised by the body and must be consumed via diet and/or supplementation. Implement these tips to increase your intake of omega-3s:
- Eat oily fish 2-3 times per week – mackerel, trout, salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring
- Consume omega-3s from chia seeds, flaxseeds, pecan nuts, and walnuts
- Supplement with a high-quality fish oil supplement that's kept in the fridge to prevent oxidation
- Eat grass-fed meat and dairy
4. Engage in Strengthening Exercises
Your joints are surrounded by muscles that enforce stability and provide support. Unfortunately, many chaps have weak muscles due to being sedentary or doing the wrong exercise (excessive weight-bearing cardio for example). This puts extra strain on joints and increases the risk of pain, strain, and injury.
While not a quick fix, engaging in strength training to stabilise the muscles and ligaments around the joints can improve your mobility and prevent injuries over time. It's a good idea to work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to pinpoint weak spots and guide you with strengthening exercises.
5. Boost Your Copper Levels
Copper is an important trace mineral and an essential cofactor for the production of healthy collagen in your body (4). Collagen is a structural protein that gives strength and flexibility to the cartilage, bones, ligaments, and tendons – it's a must-have for strong, stable joints. Unfortunately, many people over-consume minerals like zinc and iron, which compete for absorption with copper and may knock it out of balance!
Prioritise joint health by eating more copper-rich foods like liver, oysters, turkey, avocados, potatoes, leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts, and seeds.
6. Get More Vitamin D
Known as the "sunshine vitamin", vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient produced when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Unfortunately, most of us spend our days indoors under artificial light and not nearly enough time in the sun. This plays into poor joint and bone health as vitamin D3 is essential for absorbing and retaining minerals like calcium and phosphorus (5).
Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is a safe way to support your bones and joints – particularly for those who live in cold climates. It's also recommended you spend 15-30 minutes in the sun daily (if possible) and eat vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products.
7. Move Frequently but Keep It Low-Impact
How do you feel after a day of sitting at your desk with very little movement? Most people feel stiff, achy, and desperate to stretch their legs! Inactivity can trigger joint pain because joints need movement to improve circulation to the tissues, nourish the cartilage, relieve tension, and stay flexible.
Low-impact exercise is best for joint health; try incorporating 30 minutes of walking, cycling, swimming, tai chi or yoga several times per week. Additionally, you can set a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around or do some stretches.
8. Lose Weight
One of the best things you can do to support your joints is getting in shape! Excess body weight is a huge stressor for your bones and cartilage; it causes wear and tear, pain, inflammation, and sometimes even fractures. A study on overweight adults found that, with each pound of body weight lost, there was a 4 times reduction in stress on the knee joints when walking (6). Not only does this improve pain, but it also makes it much easier to do the activities you love!
The following tips can help you drop excess body weight and relieve some of the pressure on your joints:
- Engage in regular, low-impact exercise 3-5 times per week
- Increase your non-exercise activity by taking the stairs and taking regular walks to boost your step count
- Focus on portion control
- Eat a calorie-controlled diet
- Drink more pure water and avoid consuming alcohol and sugary soft drinks
- See a nutritionist if you need extra support
9. Consume Gelatin
Gelatin – yup, the stuff used to make jelly – is an awesome joint remedy! A derivative of collagen, gelatin is made up of amino acids necessary for reducing inflammation and building strong bones and joint cartilage (7).
Unfortunately, our modern diet is low in gelatin. To remedy this, we suggest getting gelatin in your diet through bone broth; made by simmering beef, chicken, pork, or fish bones for 12-24 hours in pure water and an acidic medium like apple cider vinegar. A cup of bone broth a day provides gelatin as well as glucosamine, chondroitin, and numerous bone-supportive minerals – it can make all the difference to your joint health!
10. Try a Magnesium Salt Bath
People often hold stress and tension in the muscles and joints – particularly if you are sitting all day or working out intensely! We suggest soothing your aching joints by soaking in a warm bath for 15-30 minutes after a long day or heavy workout. For extra benefit, add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts to the bath to boost your magnesium levels transdermally.
With the help of the lifestyle tips in this article, your joints will be feeling flexible and ready to carry you through life pain-free!
While joint pain and stiffness are common, if pain persists or becomes worse, speak to your doctor to rule out another health condition.
This article was created for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views of For Chaps Ltd. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.