Got March Madness? Consider Your Bone And Joint Health Before Playing Hoops
Did you pick St. Peter’s to upset Kentucky in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament? I sure didn’t, and now my bracket is pretty much busted on top of all the other upsets that happened! All that being said, it’s made this tournament very exciting and entertaining to watch. You can see the passion these athletes have, and how hard they’ve worked to get to this point. They’ve taken great care of their bodies to avoid injury as best is possible, and make sure they’re operating at peak performance. Maintaining healthy bones and joints is essential not only if you want to operate at peak performance, but also if you want to live an active, pain free life lifestyle. The basketball players want the best shot at winning the tournament, and if we want to have the best shot at “living our best life” pain free, then we’ll do our best to keep our bones and joints healthy.
The Importance of maintaining healthy bones and joints:
In the most basic sense, our bones and joints support us and allow us to move. If they are healthy, we are able to have our full range of motion and can function optimally while also being pain free. Additionally, our bones also store calcium and other minerals to help keep them strong, and to release into the body when we need them for other uses. When we’re younger our bodies deposit calcium to our bones at a faster rate than it takes calcium away, so our bones stay nice and dense. As we get older, generally past the age of 30, our bodies slow down depositing calcium to our bones and speed up withdrawing it. As we withdraw more and more calcium, and other minerals, our bones get more fragile. This puts us at an increased risk of breaking a bone due to a minor fall or a repetitive motion such as a stress fracture in your foot after running. According to the CDC, in people over the age of 65, 1 in 4 will fall each year and over 95% of hip fractures are due to falls. So, we can see how important maintaining bone density is as we age.
Healthy joints allow our bones to slide over one another smoothly and give us our full range of motion. A couple components of our joints prevent our bones from rubbing against one another. Those components are the cartilage and synovial fluid. If our joint has excess stress on it or is misaligned, that’s when our cartilage starts to get worn down over time and we start to feel pain. As we get older, our bodies start to dry up. This decreases the amount of synovial fluid we have lubricating the joint, which in turn increases our chances that there’s going to be some rubbing and pain in the joint.
If we don’t take care of our bones and joints, we will start to experience problems such as osteoporosis and arthritis amongst other possible issues.
The key to maintaining healthy bones:
Our bodies operate under Wolff’s Law which states that our bones will adapt to the stress under which they are placed. Meaning that the more stress we place on our bones the more our bodies are going to try and deposit calcium there to make them stronger. A great way to signal to our body that we need to deposit more calcium to our bones is through resistance training. Resistance training is exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance such as a weight or a band. By consistently resistance training we are letting our body know that we are experiencing stress in certain areas and that it needs to strengthen them by depositing more calcium there.
Another way we can make sure our bones stay healthy is by eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of Vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D is critical for the absorption of calcium. If we do not have Vitamin D, then we cannot form the hormone responsible for calcium absorption, calcitriol. If we cannot absorb calcium from our diet then we are going to withdraw it from the stores in our bones; therefore, weakening them. We can get Vitamin D from foods like egg yolks, saltwater fish, and beef liver. We can also get Vitamin D by spending time out in the sun, where we’ll absorb it through our skin. The best sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. It can also be found in dark green leafy vegetables.
Three things you can do today to maintain healthy joints:
Maintain a healthy weight range for your body type. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis. For each extra pound we gain we place 4 times the amount of stress on our weight bearing joints, such as our hips and knees. This extra stress wears down the cartilage in the joints, and predisposes us to injury which can lead to even more degeneration in the joint.
Exercise regularly. By stretching and strengthening the muscles around the joints, we reduce the risk of misalignment and injury. Low impact exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, strength training, and stretching can help keep the joints strong and mobile. Be sure to start slow and controlled when trying new exercises to protect the joints.
Your diet: Making sure to eat healthy can help us lose weight and ease stress on the joints. Besides that, we’ll want to specifically include a source of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, and some green leafy vegetables to help reduce the inflammation in the joints.
I know this hasn’t helped your bracket get any better, but now is a great time to put some of these principles into practice before summer gets here. That way you’re able to do all the fun things you’d like and not worry about the pain! If you have any questions about bone/joint health or are experiencing joint pain in the North Denver area, give Enhance Life Chiropractic a call at 720-328-3088. We’d love to help you!