One in four adults in the US are expected to get Osteoarthritis (OA) in their lifetime . For athletes the percentages soar, especially for knee and hip joints. Professional athletes can expect their risk for OA in some joints, typically the lower limb joints to increase by roughly double, sometimes more depending on the sport .
Our joints provide us with the ability to move, run, type, grasp and even look at this computer (or phone). They are made of bone and muscle, ligaments, cartilage, synovial fluid and other tissues. And caring for those joints needs to occur throughout life, athlete or not.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Obviously, overuse, or high intensity usage, increases the risk of OA, as mentioned above . But also age, genetics, gender and obesity play a role. Women are more likely to get OA after the age of 50 than men and obesity can also increase the risk . Over time, the added weight, puts extra pressure on joints damaging sensitive joint tissues .
OA symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased range of motion in the affected joint. This stems from the breakdown of tissue cartilage between bones in the joint which is the root cause of OA .
Athletics, Weekend Warriors and OA Risk
Whether you are a young athlete training 15-20 hours a week, a weekend warrior, marathon runner or other kind of fitness fanatic, caring for joints is important. Joint damage occurs with repeated loading and repetitive impact on the joint .
Joint damage can also occur as a result of an acute joint injury like a meniscal tear, ligament injury or a broken bone. Individuals with an injury history have been found to have a 50% chance of acquiring OA in the affected joint in the 10-20 years following the injury .
Joint Injury Prevention and Joint Health
There are some things you can do to help prevent osteoarthritis, especially if you are an athlete.
1.Exercise if you don’t already!
Always warm up and cool down appropriately. Don’t stretch when you are cold, stretch when you are warm, after you have done some warming up, light jogging or other warm up exercise. Stretching is an important part of caring for your muscles and ligaments and preventing injury, so don’t skimp! If your joints bother you, choose a low impact exercise like swimming or cycling.
2.Weight Bearing Exercise
Weight bearing exercise builds muscle and strengthens the joint, preventing injury and helping to distribute the pressure of repeated loading . Even if you only love to run, weight training should also be a part of your exercise routine. Weight bearing exercise can also strengthen bones to help prevent Osteopenia and Osteoporosis.
Good nutrition and hydration help to feed the joint, bone and muscle that is important to keeping healthy. Vitamin D and Calcium are particularly important. Calcium helps keep bones strong, and Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. A varied, healthy diet high in antioxidants may also help preserve important joint tissues . Conveniently, H2PRO™ Bone and Joint Health has calcium and vitamin D plus probiotics, which have been shown to strengthen bones.
4.Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is an important risk factor in the development of OA. Maintain a healthy weight and your joints will return the favor [4,5].
5.Control Blood Sugar
High blood sugar levels promote inflammation. Inflammation damages joint tissue, so snack on fruit or vegetables and hummus instead of high carb snacks throughout the day . Extra sugar in that latte? No way! Hydrate with H2PRO™, it is sugar-free!
6.Care for Old Injuries
If you have an old injury get a physical therapist or personal trainer to help you strengthen the joint . Experience and personalized exercises can ensure you are performing the right exercises to keep your joint healthy.
Know your own physical limits. Pushing too hard when starting an exercise routine, or pushing through an injury so you can run that marathon on Saturday may not pay off in the long run. Always wear protective gear when it is necessary. Injuries happen quickly and there is no going back once your injure a joint .
8.Straighten up Scruffy!
Good posture preserves neck and back joints. We often ignore these joints, but in today’s world of near constant interaction with phones and computers, positive posture will keep these important joints healthy .
Core strength in your back, abdomen and chest helps with balance and whole body strength. Keeping the core strong should be a part of your exercise routine, all your joints benefit .
10.When in Pain, Add Ice
When a joint is bothering you, ice it down, 20 minutes at a time, never with the ice directly on your skin. Ice will decrease inflammation, help the body manage pain and healing sore tissues .
Love Your Joints and Love Your Guts with H2PRO™ Bone and Joint Health.
3- CDC Fact Sheet on Osteoarthritis, accessed April 2017
4- WebMD, Caring for your Joints, accessed April 2017
5- The Arthritis Foundation, Osteoarthritis Prevention, accessed April 2017
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