It happens to all of us, a part of the human experience. At some point, we all start to feel pain in some of our body parts. And it’s not restricted to one or the other sex. It is a problem that plagues both men and women.
The initial symptom may be an irritating ache or recurring pain in the knee or, perhaps, stiffness or some other form of discomfort in the fingers. Maybe you experience an elbow problem or a loss of mobility in the neck … or something else.
As humans, we need to know and understand that creaky joints happen – to everybody. And when they start popping up, it needn’t be a cause for alarm, simply a realization of advancing age … a clear-cut sign that you are getting older and a recognition that it may be just the beginning of chronic pain that may affect and impact you for all of your remaining years.
Importantly, these aches and pains are usually the result of “wear and tear” or the initial stages of osteoarthritis. And for those who become afflicted, it becomes necessary to use anti-inflammatory and/or pain-killing drugs as a way to deal with the constant discomfort in order to function normally. For many people, joint replacement surgery becomes the only viable option
Prescription drugs and surgical procedures are the remedies for people already suffering from joint problems. If you are still pain-free, there are things that you can do – starting immediately – to limit “wear and tear “and even prevent it.
First, you need to understand how the problem of “wear and tear” develops so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent it or, at least, slow down the process. Consider …
In healthy joints, cartilage acts as a kind of shock absorber because it provides a “smooth-as-silk” surface between your bones that enables you to avoid friction and pain. But, when wear and tear sets in, the cartilage in your body begins to break down, actually starts to disintegrate – and that leads to painful bone-on-bone grinding, friction … and, of course, often extreme discomfort.
For many people, cartilage lasts longer so that they are able to avoid or, at least, delay the inevitable pain. Generally, genetics, nutrition and overall good health are factors that slow the wear and tear of cartilage and help keep bones healthy and pain-free. However, other factors, such as how you use joints – physically, through sports and labor, for instance – impact your muscles, ligaments and tendons which are also key factors in joint health.
Here are things that you can do to avoid or limit damage to your joints and retain your youthful vigor and vitality.
STEP ONE: How to keep your Hips Healthy
Your hips are “ball-and-socket” joints that have the widest range of motion of any of the weight-bearing joints in your body. They play an integral role in all of the movements you make each day and, as a result, tend to fall victim to the greatest amount of wear and tear.
It stands to reason if you take a moment to think about it. Here’s why: each time you walk or simply stand erect, you put the full weight of your upper body on your hips; that weight actually “pushes down” on your hips, creating stress. And that stress will, over time, lead to wear and tear.
Hip problems are gender neutral. That is, they affect both men and women equally, generally beginning when people reach young middle age … their early 40s. The problem can be painful and ultimately lead to hip replacement … unless you take steps now to eliminate the danger of future breakdowns.
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: one important thing you can do is to strengthen the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support your hips so that you spread the pressure of walking and standing to other parts of your body, as well as your hips, while also cushioning the impact on your cartilage.
Non-impact exercises, such as yoga, Pilates, swimming and cycling offer excellent ways for you to achieve the results you want. On the other hand, a high-exercise regimen will have the adverse effect you seek, leading much more quickly to wear and tear … and debilitating physical problems.
And yet, many people – perhaps you’re one – enjoy running (an impact exercise) and that can result in problems. If you decide that you need to keep running, make sure you warm up properly each time. Warm-ups will enable you to strengthen your joints and make them supple — and better able to withstand the pounding they receive when you run – so that you will stand a better chance of avoiding injury or wear and tear.
It’s also a good idea to use rubber-soled running shoes because they do a much better job than leather of absorbing shocks to your feet when you run.
Try these useful exercises … to nourish your cartilage and keep your hip joints healthy. Swing your legs backward ten times daily and then side-to-side, as well. This simple exercise helps promote full range of motion, and flexibility, for both of your hips. However:
Avoid These Potentially Harmful Activities: simply stated, do not wear shows that have no cushioning. And keep your weight under control. Avoid excessive weight gain.
STEP TWO: How to keep your Shoulders Strong
Your shoulders, unlike your hips, carry no weight which makes them more unlikely to suffer wear and tear. However, shoulder wear and tear does happen … primarily to middle-aged men who have spent their working lives engaged in lifting, especially heavy lifting.
Lifting often leads to shoulder dislocation (a somewhat common problem), because the shoulder’s wide range of motion and very narrow bone sockets lends itself to your bones “slipping out of the socket” or dislocating themselves … causing you extreme pain.
That, of course, is only one of the potential shoulder problems that can plague you. Sudden lifting, especially when you raise something over your head, can result in ligament and muscle strain and, over time … wear and tear.
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: surprisingly, people who don’t use the joints enough run the risk of losing some or all of the mobility in their shoulders. That can lead to wear and tear – and pain – when the soft tissues that surround the shoulders begin to contract because they are not being used and exercised effectively; they don’t stretch out which is a result that occurs in healthy shoulders.
This ultimately results in the shoulder’s ball and socket moving closer to one another, causing grinding … and discomfort.
How will you know if you are experiencing shoulder distress? The signs will be simple and plentiful. For example, you may start finding it difficult to do a simple task, such as washing your hair … or you may begin to suffer from a symptom known as “frozen shoulder.” If that happens, you will suddenly lose full range of motion in your shoulder and you will be unable to do things you have always done automatically … without forethought.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to assure you don’t ever suffer the symptoms noted above. For instance:
Try these useful exercises … stretch your hands over your head to keep your shoulders mobile and flexible. Swing your arms forward and backward while walking at a brisk pace. To avoid hunched or rounded shoulders (a condition in which your joints are not properly aligned), roll your shoulders backward in big, arcing circles ten times each day. It will help you retain flexibility, range of motion and good health in both of your shoulders.
Avoid these harmful activities: Do not engage in over arm throwing (a baseball motion), ironing, weightlifting, heavy lifting and carrying … or even hunching over a computer for long periods of time.
STEP THREE: How to keep your Knees Fit and Flexible
Your knee is vulnerable, even if you don’t engage in rigorous sports or other physical activity. It is, in fact, the most likely joint in your body to suffer wear and tear. Want proof? Look at the endless list of professional athletes that suffer severe knee injuries.
Your knee twists and turns, two movements that make your muscles and ligaments much more susceptible to sprains, strains, tears and even ruptures.
And, while men tend to be victimized much more frequently by knee wear and tear-related injuries, generally because they played sports earlier in life, overweight women can also suffer from knee problems. So, if you already have concerns about the health of your knees, here is what you need to do.
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: your knees lack some of the protective cushioning enjoyed by other joints in your body. As a result, you need to rely more heavily on your leg muscles to reduce some of the shock that your knees absorb each time you walk briskly (for exercise) or run.
The importance of your leg muscles for healthy knees means that you can’t allow them to “waste away” or weaken. They need to remain strong so that you don’t suffer wear and tear to the cartilage that protects your knees.
You need to exercise your leg muscles, regularly, to avoid problems that may occur from activities you currently engage in that you may take lightly, such as skiing or other sports-related movements that involve repeated sideways twisting and turning. Here’s what you need to do.
Try these useful exercises … engage in leg lifts as a way to strengthen your thigh muscles. You can also “tighten” your thigh muscles and hold them in that position for ten full seconds – five times a day. The Martial Arts movements of tai chi can also be useful in strengthening your legs and protecting your knee because it involves smooth, low-impact movements. In fact, tai chi can also help reduce pain if you already suffer the effects of wear and tear.
Do not do these harmful activities: avoid pivoting on your knees when you attempt to pick up heavy objects. Also: stay away from high-risk sports, such as snow-and-water-skiing.
STEP FOUR: How to Assure Free Movement of your Neck
Most healthy people enjoy lots of free and unhindered movement of their necks, but that blessing also carries a risk. It is that the joints in the neck are more prone to wear and tear … and that can lead to a condition known as cervical spondylosis. In this condition, the discs between the vertebrae lose their ability to cushion and the result is chronic pain.
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: try to avoid bad posture when sitting in front of a computer or when ironing. The act of bending forward, when you engage in either activity, can compress the discs in your upper back and neck and exacerbate the condition mentioned above – cervical spondylosis.
Try these useful exercises … you can keep your neck flexible, mobile and healthy by attempting the following exercise: drop your chin down to your neck and then look up at the ceiling. Repeat this process five times … slowly. Then, slowly turn your head from side-to-side as far as you can – 10 times daily.
These are activities you need to avoid: make sure you don’t look down when you work on a computer; keep your vision at eye level. Also, avoid gardening, ironing and turning sideways for extended periods of time.
STEP FIVE: How to keep your Ankles Strong and Sturdy
It should come as no surprise to you that your ankle joints are the first – of all of your joints – to receive impact when you walk or run. In fact, your ankle allows up and down movement, while a second joint in your leg, enables you to turn your foot inward and outward.
Of course, ankle arthritis affects women much more frequently than it does men because of the high-heeled shoes women tend to wear. These shoes offer little or no support. However, men experience ankle problems, too, especially after age 35.
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: walking is often a good exercise that can promote the health of your ankles and keep them strong. However, if you have flat feet or high arches, your ankles will be less able to absorb the stress that comes from walking. If that is a problem, you can still use walking as an effective exercise if you wear the right shoes. The shoes you need should have heels that are between half-an-inch and one-an-one-half-inches high. Why? The heels elevate your foot and stop it from “rolling” inward which can lead to wear and tear.
What’s more, raised insoles also raise the sole of your foot and keep it properly aligned, relieving unnecessary stress and, ultimately, the wear and tear that can lead to pain and discomfort.
Try these useful exercises: sit in a chair and point your foot at the toe up and down ten times. Then rotate your feet clockwise and counter-clockwise … also ten times for each step. The result of these exercises is that you will be able to keep your foot and ankle mobile and flexible … and less prone to injury.
Stay away from these risky activities: do not wear shoes with high heels or shoes that have no visible support for your ankles.
STEP SIX: How to keep your Elbows Functioning and Pain-Free
Your elbow is generally less subject to wear and tear than any of the other joints in your body. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you can damage your elbow if you participate in heavy lifting. The truth is that lifting can stretch your tendons and cause serious damage. Here is another problem: you can suffer tennis or golfer’s elbow simply by clutching the handle of the tennis racket or golf club for too long of a time. Yes … it’s true. To eliminate these potential problems:
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: purchase sports equipment that has larger handles so that you don’t have to use the overly-tight grip that can cause physical problems.
Try these useful exercises … build up arm strength by bending and straightening your arm ten times daily. When you do that, you will keep your tendons and ligaments supple and much more resistant to injury. If you sit in front of a computer for several hours each day, move your mouse closer to the screen to avoid the risk of accidentally stretching your tendons.
Eliminate or Avoid these risky activities: stay away from gardening or any similar activity or work that involves holding equipment very tightly for long periods of time.
STEP SEVEN: How to keep your Hands and Wrists Healthy
Interestingly, women tend to suffer wear and tear of the fingers much more frequently than men because females do finer hand work over longer periods of time, such as knitting or needlework. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to avoid damage and the pain that results from it.
Take these steps to avoid wear and tear: vary your activities and make sure you don’t keep your hand – and fingers – in the same position for a long period of time. That’s what causes problems.
Participate in these useful exercises … close your palms, one against the other, while linking your fingers. Then, bend your wrist from side-to-side as well as up and down … do all of this ten times each day.
Do not engage in these risky activities: a simple word of advice: avoid the prolonged use of your thumb to pinch objects.
Follow the simple advice provided here and you stand a much better chance of avoiding aches and pains … even as you age and get older with each passing day.
Other articles in this issue:
- The Critical Links of a Water Storage and Purification Plan
- Will the Elections Make Any Difference?
- Big Brother Wants To Know What Websites You Visit