There’s no real secret to getting stronger muscles. You put them under stress, you feed them the right nutrients, and voila, your muscles get stronger.
But your joints and cartilage seems to be a bit trickier – especially with so many people suffering from arthritis.
The truth is that it’s not all that complicated.
Remember when you used to warm up before gym?
You do that for two reasons:
- To get your heart rate up and your blood flowing
- To get your synovial fluid moving
Now, I’m not saying you should stand up every 15 minutes and do some arm circles, jumping jacks, and push-ups. As effective as that may be, your co-workers and family members may start looking at you sideways.
The more you move, the more your body recognizes the need for healthy joints and cartilage.
So here’s what you should do:
If you’ve got knee and ankle problems, walk.
Problems with your shoulders, elbows, and hands: climb rocks if you can or lift light weights (with proper form). If you can’t do either of those, crawl.
Hip issues? Take some dance classes.
Have fun with whatever you decide to do. But remember this one very important part.
Our bodies seek to be as efficient as possible. It’s why the third or fourth time you exercise in the same sort of way, you’re not nearly as sore as you were the first time. Variety is key. For example, don’t just keep walking the same route. Go hiking on a trail, visit a botanical garden, or even just walk the same route backwards.
Feed Your Joints and Tendons
Unfortunately, the glucosamine and chondroitin are not the joint heroes they’re marketed to be. A meta-analysis revealed they’re no better than taking a placebo. However, collagen has seen much more success.
It’s here that I should mention that collagen alone isn’t going to do it. If you’ve got OA (osteoarthritis), you’ve probably also got inflammation that will need to be taken care of.
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Collagen is beneficial because it contains glycine – an amino acid rarely seen in the human diet. The highest sources of glycine are those generally avoided by most people, like chicken and pork skin. Or, people don’t eat the best sources very often: bone broth and gelatin.
Thankfully, bone broth is gaining momentum, but it’s still not something most people eat every day. You need about 10 g of a glycine total a day. Your body produces about 3g. So that leaves you with 7g to get from your diet or a supplement.
For some people, this is a bit of a catch-22. They don’t exercise because their joints hurt, so they’re overweight (in addition to probably having a poor diet).
While it has been shown that lifting weight can help prevent cartilage loss, it’s important to note the difference between lifting weight for a little bit of time and subjecting your joints to it all the time. Even losing as little as one pound can help reduce your joint pain.
That being said, don’t go out there and walk three miles today if you haven’t walked in a while. You may wind up doing your joints more harm than good. Listen to your body. If the pain starts feeling more like an injury instead of the burn associated with working out, it’s time to stop your walk and cool down.
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Drinking water can help with just about anything. The adult body is made of about 60% water, so it makes complete sense. Though, that can vary greatly based on fitness level, age, and gender (it can be as high as 80% and as low as 50%).
Water keeps your cartilage hydrated. Hydrated cartilage is happy cartilage. Your joints will be less stiff and you won’t feel as much pain emanating from your joints.
You should be drinking about half your weight in ounces a day.
These simple tips can help you take control of your joint health and get you on your way to pain-free life.
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