You may think taking care of your joints is for old people. You may think that because you’re are 25 or 35, you won’t need to be concerned about your joints for a while. However, your joint health becomes a matter of importance earlier than you think.
No matter how old you are, joint health matters. It’s never too early to start making joint health a regular habit. As aging chips away at your bones and joints, here are a few tips to help you maintain your joint health at any age.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Staying at a healthy weight is important for many reasons. Carrying extra weight takes a physical toll on the body over a long period of time. Weight-bearing joints, such as your knees, hips, and back, have to support some, if not all, of your body weight. It makes sense that the more weight a joint has to carry, the more damage it experiences. For this reason, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight over the course of your life. By doing so, your joints won’t deteriorate at a faster rate than they otherwise would.
Maintaining a healthy weight requires a healthy diet and adequate exercise. Done in combination, you provide your joints the support to stay healthy.
What’s in your diet?
The diet of people in their 20s and 30s can be chaotic at the best of times and erratic at the worst. The demands of school, work, and busy social lives make it challenging to eat well and get all your needed nutrition. But changes to your diet don’t have to be drastic. Sometimes little changes make all the difference. Foods like
- red apples,
- and dark leafy greens
are packed with anti-inflammatories and antioxidants which support your overall joint health. Not only that, these foods can help reduce swelling. Oily fish, such as salmon, contains omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce joint pain and stiffness. There are many types of food that can support joint health. If you want healthy joints, then eat a joint-friendly diet.
Maintaining a healthy diet not only helps avoid weight gain but provides the needed nutrients that support joint health. If your diet does not provide these nutrients, joint supplements can fill that gap. If looking for a joint supplement, make sure it contains ingredients that support joint health. These ingredients include:
- vitamin D
- vitamin C
These and other nutrients can have a positive impact on joint pain, disease, and health.
Your joints change with age
It’s no surprise that as we age the wear and tear of our joints catch up with us. All joints have the same basic anatomy. There is the connective tissue which is a ligament that acts like a bridge from one bone to another, the bone itself, and the cartilage which acts as a shock absorber to prevent bones from grinding against each other.
Cartilage is delicate and becomes more susceptible to damage as we age and can lead to conditions like osteoarthritis. Once you lose cartilage, you cannot restore it. Once cartilage is gone, nothing can or will bring it back. Supporting your bone and joint health during your earlier years is vital. The stronger your bones and cartilage are at an early age, the better they will serve you in later life.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
As stated earlier, there are many nutrients that are essential to healthy joints. The most common nutrients associated with joint health are glucosamine and chondroitin. Both are known for the role in easing joint pain. However, they are also essential for building and maintaining optimal joint health.
Glucosamine is considered to be a basic building block for healthy joint cartilage. Research shows that it can delay the progression and symptoms of joint disease such as knee osteoarthritis (1). In some studies, glucosamine supplementation resulted in improved pain and decreased function limitation (2).
Like glucosamine, chondroitin is an essential component of cartilage. In a recent study, chondroitin supplementation improved pain without any significant side effects (3). Not only does chondroitin help reduce pain but joint swelling as well.
When taken together, you can reduce your joint pain. This is especially important if you have a joint disease but also if you participate in strenuous exercise or activities. These two nutrients support healthy joints, no matter your age.
Add some weight training into your gym routine
Muscles and joints are like yin and yang—you can’t have one without the other. Strong muscles support your joints, and strong joints help support your muscles. Without muscle strength, your joints take a pounding, especially the spine, hips, and knees, which support the majority of your body weight. For those that go to the gym and only do cardio, consider adding weight training into your routine. Weight training can help build muscle and keeps your muscles and surrounding ligaments strong. For those who may not have time to go the gym, consider buying some weights to keep at home. If you already do weight training, keep up the good work!
Many young adults don’t think about joint health unless they’ve already had a condition. Quality joint health doesn’t just come overnight—it’s a series of good habits built up over time, and the earlier you start the better. You may not feel the effects of your good work every single day but without a doubt, you will thank yourself when you’re older.
1) Reginster JY, et al. Long-term effects of glucosamine sulfate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lancet 2001;357251-357256.
2) Rovati LC. The clinical pro le of glucosamine sulfate as a selective symptom modifying drug in osteoarthritis: current data and perspectives [abstract]. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 1997;5(Suppl A):72.
3) Singh JA, et al. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;1:CD05614.