(ARA) – It can happen at any time and at any age. Strenuous activity, whether from jogging, a set of tennis or even gardening, can cause joint stiffness and discomfort, limiting range of motion and decreasing mobility among younger people as well as those who are more mature.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are several ways to keep joints healthy and flexible so that you can continue to enjoy favorite activities.
Although many people have relied on analgesics, which only offer temporary relief, there are natural supplements that can offer long term benefits and help to promote healthier joints. Two nutrients in specific — glucosamine and chondroitin — have been shown to improve the structure and function of joints and cartilage. Both are nutrients that occur naturally in the body. Glucosamine helps the body to manufacture the building blocks of cartilage and help keep cartilage lubricated and maintain its slippery texture. Chondroitin helps attract and hold fluid in the cartilage, inhibiting the activity of harmful enzymes that break down cartilage.
As our bodies age, the ability to produce some of the nutrients necessary for cartilage building declines. That’s where nutritional supplementation can help. In a 1999 study, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin was effective in preventing the progression of cartilage loss.
Today, there is a wide variety of glucosamine and chondroitin nutritional supplements available. Osteo Bi-Flex, for instance, is one of the most popular and carries the distinction of being the nutritional supplement most doctors recommend for joint health.* Additionally, it offers a complete range of dosage forms and formulas to suit every preference, including exclusive smaller, easier-to-swallow caplets, a unique triple strength formulation for convenience, popular softgels, a fast-acting formula and great tasting soft fruit chews. There’s even a specialized Osteo Bi-Flex formula designed to meet the joint care needs of high-performance activity.
Although there is no “magic bullet” to alleviate the discomfort and stiffness associated with joint problems, to get the greatest benefit from the use of nutritional supplements whatever your age, you should follow a program involving several lifestyle changes:
Shed extra pounds to reduce stress on your joints. Your health care provider can give you tips on the best ways to trim calories and inches.
Begin a regular exercise program. Although many people believe that exercise can “wear out” joints, the truth is that regular exercise promotes joint comfort by increasing the flow of fluids to the cartilage and strengthening the structures surrounding the joints. Exercise at a comfortable, steady pace. Know your body’s signals and don’t over-exert yourself.
Learn to lift properly, using your legs instead of your back. Lift and carry smaller objects in the palm of your hand instead of with your fingers, and when possible, slide objects instead of lifting them.
Maintain good posture. When standing, keep legs shoulder-distance apart for balance and support, tuck your buttocks in and keep your shoulders back. When sitting, use a small pillow to support your lower back if necessary, and keep your hips, knees and feet at 90-degree angles.
Move. Don’t stay in one position for too long. Shift your weight and stretch occasionally to keep joints from becoming stiff.
Use a pillow that supports your neck to reduce stress around the neck and shoulders while sleeping.
The Arthritis Foundation also recommends incorporating relaxation into your daily routine to help relieve both mental and physical stress. Deep breathing, meditation or “guided imagery” tapes are commonly used methods. Finding a relaxation technique that works for you is a highly personal decision, but the rewards of making relaxation part of your routine are plentiful.