From spending far too much time bent over looking at a screen to ingesting inflammatory foods and drinks, there are myriads ways you’re attacking your own body day in and day out, including ways you could be harming your joints. Luckily, human bodies are remarkably resilient, and the vast majority of minor harmful actions you take against yourself don’t inflict major damage.
That being said, there are a number of seemingly inconsequential things that you do almost every day that can actually have a lasting negative impact on your joint health.
1. You Don’t Properly Stretch Throughout the Day
Stretching regularly not only helps to alleviate back pain, it can also help athletes (and non-athletes) maintain a greater range of motion in their joints.
Because of the inherent connectedness of the tissues that comprise your body, even stretching your hamstrings can have a positive effect on your knee joints, which may seem completely unrelated.
The point is: dynamic stretching—and static stretching once the muscles have been warmed up—can keep your joints in shape while improving your flexibility and range of motion. If you’re not stretching on a regular basis, you are doing your entire body, joints and all, a huge disservice.
2. You’ve Been Exercising the Same Way Every Day
You may be an avid runner, but if you want to maintain healthy hip and knee joints, you may want to consider switching up your routine.
It’s a common misconception that running damages your knee joints irreparably. The simple truth is that running can actually be beneficial for joint health, provided you don’t have preexisting conditions or injuries that might be exacerbated by high-impact exercises like long-distance jogging.
In order to maintain the peak of joint health, it’s important to vary your exercises. Throw in some yoga along with your jogging. Give kickboxing a shot. Go for a swim from time to time. Repeating the same motions over and over again can lead to the wearing down of your cartilage over time.
3. You May Have Gained a Few Extra Pounds
Arguably one of the worst things you can do for your joints—and also for your overall health—is to gain an excessive amount of weight.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Every pound of excess weight exerts about four pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his knees; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on his knees.”
Your knees aren’t the only joints that suffer when you gain weight. Extra weight generally means that you’ve put on at least some percentage of fat. This fat releases inflammatory chemicals, and we’ve already established that inflammatory responses within the body are detrimental to joint health.
Therefore, if you want to keep your joints in ideal condition, it’s incredibly crucial to maintain a healthy weight and body fat percentage.
4. You Haven’t Been Getting Adequate Rest
Ahhh, sleep. There are few more remarkable functions that our bodies perform. Sleeping is a regenerative, restorative imperative that:
- Improves productivity,
- Sharpens focus,
- Strengthens immunity,
- Improves memory,
- Repairs and replenishes,
- Reduces heart attack risk,
- And so much more.
With regard to repairing and replenishing your body, this includes your joints. When you run yourself ragged 24/7, you not only decrease your ability to bounce back and fight infections, you also damage your body’s tremendous capability to restore cartilage to your joints.
Thus, the next time you think it prudent to pull an all-nighter, think of your aching joints and reconsider.
If you’re guilty of any and all of these bad habits, know that there are several ways that you can alleviate joint pain, and there are even some ways to preemptively combat it, including taking supplements. Joint health is no joke; take care of your joints, and they’ll take care of you.