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Joint pain is a common occurrence in many Americans lives, but there are steps you can take to reduce pain and prevent injury. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, wearing the proper equipment, and treating injuries early are all key.
Here are a few tips to protect your bones and joints:
Summer is the season for working in your yard and around your home. If you're ready to start digging, painting, or doing other home maintenance, you'll want to be sure to protect your joints - and your safety.
Stretch before you start: Housework and yard work can be strenuous workouts. Be sure to stretch your shoulders, hips and knees as you would before other exercises. A quick warm-up before you stretch - maybe a walk around the block - can help get the blood flowing to your muscles and joints to make stretching easier.
The laws of lifting:
Whether you're moving a mound of dirt or getting the deck chairs out of storage, carrying extra weight improperly is one of the most common ways to injure yourself. To safely lift heavy objects, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, tighten your core, and lift objects with the power in your thigh muscles rather than your back.
Steps toward safety:
If you need to reach something high - windows to be washed, things stored in the rafters, or gutters to be cleaned - make sure to use ladders safely. Ensure they have a sound footing on an even, level surface and ask someone to hold the ladder steady if you're in doubt. Never lean too far away from center on a ladder, since that can cause it to fall to one side. It's safer to reposition the ladder so your bellybutton doesn't move beyond the ladder's sides.
Great growing tips:
If gardening is your thing, consider using a stool to relieve pressure on your knees and spine from repetitive bending.
Let water work for you:
If your joints bother you, exercising in a pool is one of the best ways to keep your joints moving without putting stress on them. Like any exercise, though, there's a right and wrong way to get started. Read these
tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) on how to start an exercise program.
While millions of people have found better physical and mental health through the practice of yoga, downward dog could have a downside for your health.
reports highlight some potential dangers of yoga, including the fact that more than 7,300 people were treated for yoga-related injuries in 2010, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most common injuries included repetitive strain injuries and overstretching of the
shoulders, knees, neck, and spine.
But when done correctly, yoga is an effective - and popular - form of exercise. So popular that the American College of Sports Medicine named it #11 in the
top 20 fitness trends of 2012.
Here are a few
tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to help you practice safely:
Pumps, wedges, and stilettos may look great, they're not great for you. They can adversely affect the muscles, tendons, and joints of your legs - even after you take them off.
study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, took a look at how wearing high-heeled shoes can change the way women walk. They found that women tended to alter their gait with a shorter, more forceful stride when wearing heels, and that their feet remained in a "flexed,
This unnatural way of walking engages more of the legs' tendons, whereas women walking in flats engaged more muscles. The long-term result is shorter fibers in their calf muscles. And, even more interesting, their altered gait remained even when they
When the biomechanics of your body shift, that can create a chain reaction in your body that leads to trouble. In this case, wearing high heels can cause strain on the hamstrings, the muscles in the back of the thigh, according to a
study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research.
It also puts extra pressure on the inside of your knee, called medial loading, which increases your odds of developing osteoarthritis in that joint, an Iowa State University
study found. Over time, wearing heels can change your posture so much that it affects your ankles, knee, hip, and lower back.
Feel like flats just won't cut it at work - or when you go out?
Experts at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advise:
According to a recent
study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, that's the real reason female athletes are up to
10 times more susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries than male athletes.
In this study, geometry refers specifically to the length and shape of the knee bone. The ACL is a ligament that helps stabilize the knee joint. Although often injured by contact in sports, it's often when you're jumping, landing, twisting, pivoting, or changing directions quickly in
soccer, basketball, and skiing, that the dreaded ACL injury occurs. Researchers found that both women and men who experienced injuries had similar knee joint geometry. When the top part of the shin bone is shorter and more rounded, it can cause the ligaments to be looser, thus
making the joint unstable and more prone to injuries. Statistically, more women have this knee structure.
There are other reasons
from the National Association of Athletic Trainers that female knees -
from pre-teen soccer players to adult athletes - are more easily
Despite these disadvantages, women can reduce their risk of ACL injuries with a
dedicated program of strength training, plyometrics, and stretching. A program including walking lunges, toe raises, double- and single-leg jumps, and agility drills that focus on the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles will create muscle balance and help female athletes perfect safer jumping and
landing techniques. Also important, the AAOS found, was a
15-minute warm-up prior to starting more high-impact activities.
But exercise is actually the best way to lubricate your joints, maintain range of motion, and strengthen the muscles that support your joints - three key factors in reducing pain. If you haven't exercised lately, you'll need to check with your doctor
before getting started. And be forewarned, your joints may ache a bit more than usual when you first get started. But as you develop a daily exercise routine, the pain should ease.
If you're looking for a new way to exercise, try these activities:
Be sure to warm up slowly, then stretch for 10-15 minutes before engaging in activity at full level. For the biggest benefits, try to stretch and get some movement every day.
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