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Easy changes to protect your joints (original and new)

When we get into a busy routine and are distracted by activities, it’s easy to overlook how hard our body is working. However, the ways we move and treat our body matter, especially when it comes to joint health. Our joints play a pivotal role in the way we function on a day-to-day basis, so it is imperative that we treat them well and do our best to preserve their abilities. Here are a few health tips to keep in mind, regardless of if you still have your original joints or if you have undergone a hip or knee replacement procedure.

Get active

Many of my patients worry that having a joint replacement will prevent them from doing the things that they enjoy most. However, it’s important to keep in mind that taking care of your joints doesn’t mean giving up the activities that you love. In fact, keeping your joints moving is one of the best ways to keep them in shape. Get regular exercise that works with your lifestyle, and don’t be afraid to collaborate with a physical therapist to develop a customized plan. Working out also reduces weight gain, and that can keep serious pressure off of your joints.

But know when to rest

Of course, you should know your limits when it comes to movement. This is especially important if you have recently had a joint replacement or if you are suffering from significant joint pain. You don’t have to run the New York marathon or deadlift 500 pounds to test your joints. In fact, doing too much can have a negative affect on how they function. Focus on joint-friendly exercises, like walking, swimming, or riding your bike. Taking time off from workouts is important, too. Don’t forget to factor rest days into your fitness regimen.

Keep life simple

Can you downsize to a different home? Can you shift your bedroom and other common areas to a lower level where they are easier to access? Making even small changes, like parking so you have fewer steps to get to your car, can save your hips and knees from unnecessary pain. Evaluate your current living situation and think about if there is anything you can do to simplify things.

Lean on others

No, not literally–although it’s perfectly fine to do so if you need to. Sometimes, it’s hard to rely on others for assistance with the things we are used to doing on our own. But if the difference between having functioning joints and be limited in mobility is asking a friend or loved one for assistance, it’s better to accept a helping hand. For example, if your prized garden needs weeding, let your neighbor help with the task and reward him or her with fresh produce as a thank you. If you know you’ll be sore after traveling up a flight of stairs at the office, ask your coworker to meet in your office instead the conference room a few doors down.

Our joints are important. By taking small steps to protect yours, you are taking a big initiative in your maintaining your overall health.

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