Joint Flexibility & Health
Most of the joints that tend to stiffen up as we age can be classified as synovial joints. These joints have five parts:
Articular cartilage: helps to provide a cushion and decrease friction between joint surfaces.
Joint cavity: provides space for the joints and fluid to move.
Capsule: contains all parts of the joint.
Synovial membrane: lines the inside of the joint capsule and produces synovial fluid.
Synovial fluid: absorbs shock, reduces friction, provides nutrition to joint tissues.
As we age there are certain inevitable changes that occur, but debilitating joint pain does not have to be the norm.
Stay moving, our joints require end-range movements in order to maintain flexibility, but also to maintain health of the tissues within the joint. Motion allows the synovial fluids to provide nutrition to all parts of the joint. It removes damaging chemicals from the cartilage and replaces them with nutrients. Motion is lotion for your joints.
Weight bearing activities provide stresses that our bones adapt to and become stronger. Consult your physical therapist about the safety of these activities such as walking, elliptical trainers, and light resistance training if you have osteoporosis. Staying hydrated benefits all of our tissues in the body. They all require water in order to stay healthy.
If you have arthritis in the knees or hips, save walking for life and not for exercise. If you think of your joint surfaces like a tire, it is already losing its tread, you want to use those tires to get you around for daily life activities. Modify your cardio exercise routine to include a stationary or recumbent bicycle, NuStep, or swimming. Wear good quality shoes that will absorb shock.