A twinge in the knee when you walk downstairs. A quick, shooting pain in your shoulder when you reach up. A few minutes of stiff “mummy walk” when you get up in the morning. Is all of this just a normal part of aging? It doesn’t have to be.
There’s an old saying that says, “Each day we are either building a castle or a dungeon to live in as we age.” In other words, your body is your home and making healthy choices each day can make all the difference in your quality of life - especially as you age.
First, the predicament: As we age, our joints typically become stiffer and less flexible as the synovial fluid that acts as a “shock absorber” begins to decrease. In addition, the cartilage in our joints starts to deteriorate and may rub together and wear away. When this occurs, the adjacent bones may no longer have the cushioning they need to function optimally. This breakdown of the joints can lead to inflammation, pain, stiffness and osteoarthritis.
Now, the good news: Just because a condition is prevalent in aging people doesn't mean it's inevitable, or that you can't do a number of things to either prevent or control it. Follow these golden rules to help mitigate wear and tear on your joints:
Slim down: If you are overweight, the first step is to shed those extra pounds. According to a recent study, weight loss can prevent onset of osteoarthritis, relieve symptoms, improve function and increase quality of life. Loss of at least 10% of body weight, coupled with exercise, is recognized as a cornerstone in the management of obese patients with osteoarthritis and can lead to significant improvement in symptoms, pain relief and physical function.1
Keep it moving: Exercise is considered one of the best ways to slow or prevent problems with the joints. Sometimes, people with joint pain get caught in a vicious cycle: their pain prevents them from exercising, which causes their joints to weaken further. It’s important to work with a trainer or physical therapist to come up with a moderate exercise program that works for you. Getting 30-40 minutes of exercise 3-4 days a week is generally advised.
Take your vitamins: While managing a complex condition like arthritis will never be as easy as taking a pill, research has shown that certain supplements can be helpful at preventing and relieving joint pain. Barlean’s Joint Relief contains 880 mg of concentrated Omega-7 (made from highly purified premium fish oil) and Hyaluronic Acid. Research suggests that Omega-7 has the potential to reduce inflammation and strengthen the nervous system and joints. Hyaluronic acid is widely used to support increased cushioning in the joints and improve the quality of synovial fluid.*
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement to make sure it’s appropriate for your condition and won’t interact with any of your other medications.
1. Bliddal H, Leeds AR, Christensen R. Osteoarthritis, obesity and weight loss: evidence, hypotheses and horizons – a scoping review. Obesity Reviews. 2014;15(7):578-586. doi:10.1111/obr.12173.