Be Good to Your Joints
A variety of factors contribute to joint pain but good joint health when we are younger can prevent damage and arthritis.
Try these tips from the Arthritis Foundation to keep your joints in good health.
- Avoid a pain in the neck.
Document holders attached to computer monitors and positioned at eye-level, along with hands-free telephone headsets, can reduce neck strain.
- Compute comfortably.
Your upper body should be spaced 20 to 26 inches from your computer monitor, the top of which should be at an even line with the top of your head when your head is in neutral position. Your arms should hang comfortably at your sides, elbows at a right angle, with your wrists relaxed while typing.
- Sit and stand.
Neither sitting nor standing on your feet all day is good for you. When possible, alternate between the two to prevent locking yourself in one position. If your job primarily involves sitting, take a break and stand up every 30 minutes or so.
- Rest your wrists.
Purchase a wrist rest for your computer or make your own with two strips of bubble-wrap packing material taped together. Make the bottom strip wider than the top one, and tape the excess width to the bottom of your keyboard so the wrist rest extends outward.
- Handle heavy loads.
To make heavy loads easier to handle, use your largest, strongest joints and muscles to take stress off smaller hand joints and to spread the load over large surface areas. When you lift or carry items, use the palms of both hands or use your arms instead of your hands. Hold items close to your body, which is less stressful for your joints. For joint safety, slide objects whenever possible rather than lift them.
- Build strong bones.
Boost your calcium intake, because a diet rich in this important mineral helps to keep your bones sturdy and can lower your risk of osteoporosis (the brittle bone disease). There are plenty of sources besides milk, including yogurt, broccoli, kale, figs, salmon and calcium supplements.
- Picture portion sizes.
Eating proper portions is key to losing and maintaining a healthy weight and, in turn, lightening the load on your joints. Brush up on proper portion sizes and picture visual comparisons. For instance: One serving of meat – 3 ounces – is the size of the palm of your hand; one serving of dairy – say 2 ounces of cheese – is the size of a pair of dominoes; one serving of vegetables – 1 cup – is the size of your fist.
- Curtail your caffeine intake.
While you may need that extra burst of energy in the morning, try and resist those second and third cups of coffee. Studies show that the extra caffeine can weaken your bones.
Stretching isn't just for workouts anymore. Take breaks throughout the day, including at your office, to get re-energized and help keep your muscles and ligaments flexible and strong.
- Develop abs of steel.
Strong abs are essential to creating overall core strength and balance. Studies show that improving strength and balance are key to preventing falls and protecting joints from damage.
For more information and tips, visit www.arthritis.org