As we age, our joints become weak and stiff with less range of motion. While this is inevitable, there are steps you can take to make sure your joints are as healthy as they can be so you can continue doing the things you love.

Why do joints get weak?

The lubricating fluid (synovial fluid) in your joints begins to decrease as you get older. Because of this, the cartilage inside joints becomes thinner. Cartilage is a connective tissue that protects your joints and bones and helps them move smoothly. When cartilage becomes thinner, your tendons and ligaments begin to become stiffer as a result. Your joints and cartilage can also become damaged over time due to overuse, injuries and obesity.

Keeping your joints healthy

There are many factors that can contribute to your joints degenerating, however there are things you can do to protect them.

  • Engage in regular physical activity – Not only will you feel good being active, but your joints will thank you. Being active and doing exercises you find enjoyable is a great way to keep joints healthy. Exercising makes your bones strong and reduces stiffness and pain from boosts of lubrication (synovial fluid) to the cartilage of the joint.
  • Get moving – Similar to exercise, getting up to change positions and stretching every so often will decrease any stiffness you may have from sitting at a desk all day, laying on the couch watching TV, etc. Orthopedic surgeon Brian McGinley, MD says “Daily stretching helps release the stiffness in the muscles and ligaments around the joints.”
  • Maintain a healthy diet – Fueling your body with proper nutrients can help keep your joints in good shape. By eating a more balanced diet, you can reduce your risk of developing arthritis and accelerated joint degeneration. It’s recommended to avoid inflammatory foods. Some good options include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds, plant oils such as flax seed, canola, and soybean.)
  • Manage your weight – Along with eating a healthy diet, managing your weight also impacts your joint health. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can help avoid putting any extra strain on weight-bearing joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, being just 10 pounds overweight can put an extra 15-50 pounds of pressure on your knees.
  • Practice proper posture – Just like your weight can strain your joints and muscles, having improper posture can also cause tension. If you’re constantly slouching and leaning, your weight will not be evenly distributed throughout your body, causing more stress on your joints.