Just like a car has motor oil to keep it running efficiently, so too do your joints have a similar fluid that lubricates and nourishes your joints. This fluid is called synovial fluid, and it is contained in sacks in between bones that let you move and rotate. Bones of the elbows, knees, hips, shoulders and in between each bone in the spinal column all have synovial joints which contain the sacks of synovial fluid. Not only does it help keep the friction off each joining bones, but it also acts as a shock absorber, protecting joints and bones against pressure exerted on it.
Imagine if this fluid was not there. Your bones would rub against each other, which is painful. Joint pain occurs when your joints are inflamed and the synovial fluid becomes less viscous, meaning it flows less freely. This can eventually lead to both types of arthritis, gout, infections of the joints and other medical conditions. Joint pain can interfere with your physical activity and daily life. However, the more you exercise and move about, the less joint pain The goal is to keep your joints moving freely, so that you can enjoy your life and jump, sit, stand up and wave your hands in the air without any pain. So, what should you do? Exercise! The more you exercise and move about, the less joint pain you will have. Here are some things you can do to get proper movement in so that you can keep your joints healthy and live a happy life.
Get Creative about Your Movement
When you sit on the couch watching TV, or on the computer all day at work for extended periods of time, it causes your joints to stiffen. You won’t notice it one day, but if it happens continuously, your uncomfortable joint pain will increase. When you watch TV, or your sitting on your computer at work, get up once in a while, stretch and move a bit. Take a walk down the hall or go up/down the stairs. Don’t stay in the same position for hours.
Make Sure Your Weight Reflects Healthy Joints
If you have a extra pounds on you, here’s another reason to finally consider getting serious about your weight loss. For every two kgs you lose, that’s four pounds of pressure off of your knees! The synovial fluid does indeed act as a shock absorber, which takes care of all the pressures you put your limbs through. However, by releasing that pressure from losing weight, you will be taking care of that fluid and joints, which in turn creates a life of happiness and pleasure all with great health.
Low Impact vs. High Impact Exercise
Sure, HIIT exercises will help you burn those calories and shed that weight faster than low intense workouts. For those that don’t know HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, where you perform an exercise with high intensity for a short time, then do the same exercise at low intensity for an even shorter time. For example, you can sprint at high intensity for 40 seconds then jog for 20 seconds and keep going at these intervals.
However, studies have shown that high impact workouts create an environment that can deteriorate your cartilages. Cartilage is the flexible connective tissues found in joints as well as other parts of the body. For those that suffer from joint pain already, pick a lower intensity workout, such as walking at an incline, using the elliptical at the gym (a machine that is designed to simulate walking up stairs), or even swimming. You can incorporate HIIT workouts to change up your routine, but limit it to no more than 1-2 times a week.
Other Things You Should Consider
Before you start any activity, you should stretch and warm up. The before-workout-stretch is usually dynamic stretching, where you stretch different parts of your body so that you are not keeping them still. Warming up should be light intensity just to get your heart pumping and body warming. An example would be extending your arms out to your side as if you are forming a “T” and rotating them in a circle. Warming up could be as simple as jumping jacks.
If you lift weights, choose lighter weights so that you can do more repetitions and ease the pressure on your joints. Make sure that you are using proper form when performing any weight lifting exercises, because you don’t want to hurt yourself. You also shouldn’t do any exercises that put too much pressure on your knees, such as deadlifts and barbell squats. Functional dumbbell exercises are great to increase your range of motion without exerting too much pressure on your joints.
It doesn’t take drastic lifestyle changes to turn your stiff, or painful joints into freely moving joints with no pain. You just need to get moving and exercise every chance you get, but limit your high impact exercises. If you are overweight, consider this an incentive to shed the pounds to ease the pressure off of your knees and hips. Keep your joints healthy, and live a happy life!