Posted by: Kelley Dees | December 8, 2010

How to Protect Your Joints

While you can’t control every risk factor for arthritis, you can protect your joints by helping prevent arthritis or keeping it from getting worse. Preventing injuries can also help.

 

  • Avoid standing too much. Standing and walking put extra stress on your knee and hip joints, especially if you are overweight or obese. If it’s necessary for you to stand for long periods of time, take sitting breaks and prop up your feet, if you can.
  • Stand properly. People with knee or hip pain often change the way they stand. As we age, that can overstress other leg joints. Try to keep your feet hip-width apart when standing and keep your weight evenly distributed over both feet.
  • Lose the high heels. They put too much stress on your knees and make you twist your knees more when you walk. The most unfortunate part is that you won’t feel anything until the damage has already been done. If you love high heels (like me!), wear them for short periods on special occasions—not every day.
  • Don’t stay static. Change positions at least every 15 to 20 minutes to avoid muscle tension and joint stiffness. Major culprits: long trips, TV and computer time.
  • Consider your sleep position. If you have arthritis in your hip, sleep on your back with your legs apart. Or if only one hip has arthritis, lie on the other side with a pillow between your knees.
  • Lift properly. Don’t bend at the waist or hips to pick up objects from the floor. Use your leg and butt muscles to lift. When carrying a heavy object, hold it close to your body.
  • Don’t play tough. Ask for help when moving and lifting heavy objects. Don’t yield to peer pressure to overdo it at the gym or elsewhere.
  • Use your strongest joint for the job. Save weaker joints for tasks only they can accomplish. For example, carry grocery bags with your arms instead of your fingers. Push doors open with your forearm instead of your hand and wrist. Support your coffee mug with your palm. Opt for a backpack over a hand-held tote.
  • Use knee and elbow pads. Whether you’re kneeling in the garden or rollerblading in the park, use cushions and safety pads to protect knees and elbows from strains and injury. Hurting a joint increases your risk for developing arthritis in it.
  • Don’t be a weekend warrior. Engaging in activities your body isn’t prepared or trained for is a common recipe for injury. If you can, plan ahead for a weekend burst of activity. Do appropriate exercise to get ready.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from Keep Moving: A Guide for Outsmarting Arthritis, by the makers of Tylenol.

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