Every day, hundreds of millions of people worldwide wake up with orthopedic problems that limit their ability to live a free and active life, making bone and joint conditions among the most common causes of severe long-term pain and physical disability.
In celebration of Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week during October 12-20th, below are five simple tips to improve your orthopedic health for life.
1. Stay Active
One of the most important ways to maintain healthy bones and joints in the long-run is daily exercise. Whether you are implementing an active lifestyle as a preventative measure or trying to strengthen an already fragile skeletal system, the key to developing strong bones and joints over time is to start slow and ease into a routine that works for you.
- Strengthen – Avoid high-impact forms of exercise that could cause stress to your bones and joints. Instead, try taking a brisk walk or using hand-held weights or stretch bands to build strength and resistance.
- Stretch – Building your flexibility is important to maintaining a wide range of mobility while avoiding injury and developing better balance. Before and after exercising, take five minutes to stretch your leg, back and arm muscles.
- Cool Down – Before you end your workout, ease into a cool down exercise, such as a light jog around the track, to prevent injury and unnecessary tightness or soreness post-workout.
2. Eat Right
In combination with the right amount of exercise, a healthy diet promotes healthy bones and joints. The key to maintaining a balanced diet is finding ways to be intentional about incorporating nutritional foods into each meal. Make sure you are getting enough of the following nutrients to keep your orthopedic health on track:
- Calcium – A mineral necessary for bone formation, calcium-rich foods such as milk products are important for building strong orthopedic health.
- Vitamin D – Few foods, besides fatty fish, dairy products and egg yolk, contain high amounts of vitamin D, so getting a safe amount of sunlight can be a good source.
- Supplements – If you are unable to get the right amount of calcium or vitamin D in your diet, taking a supplement is recommended. However, it is important to note that a “supplement” does not translate to a perfect “substitute.”
3. Gear Up
Don’t let fashion get in the way of your orthopedic health. The clothing we wear can make or break our bone and joint health, so adorning the proper gear can be an easy way to work towards a pain-free life. Instead of wearing high heels, which throw the body out of its natural position, look for shoes that provide comfort and support. Make sure your feet have plenty of room within the shoe to avoid cramping and deforming. Additionally, wear looser fitting clothes to aid proper blood circulation and flexibility of muscles.
4. Develop Healthy Habits
Developing healthy habits is essential for long-term orthopedic health. Practice good posture by always keeping both feet on the ground to distribute weight evenly as well as pulling your shoulders back to straighten out your spine. Avoid putting stress on your back and shoulders by carrying lighter loads, evening out your backpack straps or using a suitcase with wheels. When sleeping, use supportive pillows and choose a position that complements the natural curvature of the spine.
5. Practice Precaution
Taking precautionary measures is essential when it comes to your bone and joint health. If you notice any changes in your orthopedic health, make sure you take action before it is too late.
- Ice the area to reduce swelling
- Wrap the area to compress and keep in place
- Elevate the area to encourage blood flow
If the bone or joint continues to weaken or the pain continues to worsen, it is important to seek medical attention right away.
Courtesy of UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge