Many people ask, how to prevent arthritis, as it is such a common condition.
We can’t know if or when we are going to get arthritis - family history, age, lifestyle and in some cases gender, are all factors.
But there are some steps that you can take to try and prevent arthritis, and we’ll explore them in this article. Let’s get started!
Here’s a summary of what we will cover in this article:
- A healthy diet, weight and the right exercises can help to protect and support the joints
- Avoiding or managing conditions such as diabetes and infections can minimise risk of developing some types of arthritis
- Heavy lifting should be undertaken carefully, as well as any repetitive tasks such as sewing, typing and chopping ingredients
- Stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to avoid arthritis
Managing diet and health to prevent arthritis
One of the most discussed ways of how to prevent arthritis is managing your diet to include important nutrients, vitamins and oils.
Here’s an overview of some of the most popular.
Omega-3 fatty acids are very beneficial in the prevention and management of arthritis.
They are a polyunsaturated fat that can reduce inflammation in the body that can contribute to some arthritis conditions.
They also contribute to general health, which will support your body.
These essential omega 3 fatty acids can be found mainly in oily fish.
Salmon, mackerel and sardines are all good examples.
It is also found in some plant oils such as flaxseed, walnut and linseed. Chia seeds are also high in omega-3’s.
Manage blood sugar levels
Consistently high blood sugar levels are thought to contribute to inflammation, which is a major factor in several types of arthritis.
Diabetes can also trigger this sort of inflammation. It can lead to cartilage loss, which is a leading cause of osteoporosis.
Diabetes and arthritis have a close relationship. Almost half of those with diabetes also have some form of arthritis.
Those with arthritis, in turn have a heightened risk of developing diabetes.
Managing your blood sugar levels will help to prevent or manage diabetes. It is also helpful in how to prevent arthritis.
Maintain a healthy weight for your height
Obesity is a large risk factor for arthritis.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your height is important for several reasons.
Lower body joints support the weight of the body, particularly the knees.
Being overweight can increase the pressure on the cartilage of the knees dramatically, leading to higher wear and tear. When this cartilage wears away, osteoarthritis is diagnosed.
Being overweight can also be a contributing factor in rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.
And there’s more here on arthritis care.
Excess weight can also lead to cytokine production.
Cytokines are proteins that cause inflammation in the body and joints.
Losing even a few pounds to reach your healthy weight can reduce the production of cytokines.
This means both less inflammation and less stress on your lower body joints.
Treat infections and viruses
Some respiratory viruses have been found to trigger autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
It is possible that the body becomes confused by these illnesses and attacks itself. This then manifests in joint inflammation conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
There is also a type of arthritis caused by a particular bacterium. Septic or infectious arthritis happens when staphylococcus aureus gets into the joint and the surrounding tissue via the bloodstream.
If left untreated, this infection can lead to arthritis. Fortunately, it is easily treatable with antibiotics which will minimise the chance of developing this type of arthritis.
Smoking promotes inflammation in the body, which is a leading cause of some types of arthritis.
Quitting smoking stops this associated inflammation, and will help promote better health and wellbeing. It can improve heart and lung health in particular if you stop smoking.
With better general health, it is easier to stay fit and active, which also manages the risk of developing arthritis.
Smoking can also interfere with how some arthritis medications work in the body. Quitting smoking will usually allow these medicines to work better.
Exercise for how to prevent arthritis
Exercise is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Also, it can help to strengthen the muscles around the joints, aiding their performance and minimise strain on them. These muscles can help to stabilise and protect the joints.
Try to do some of all 4 types of the following exercises.
Arthritis and aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise for arthritis includes activities such as, walking, biking, running, aqua and land aerobics.
It’s also great for strengthening the heart and lungs. It is also a good way to manage your weight by burning calories and gaining endurance.
And the recommended amount of aerobic exercise and frequency is five days a week, for 30 minutes.
Strength exercises for arthritis
To strengthen the muscles supporting your joints, load-bearing work is invaluable.
There are many weight machines at the gym that can help improve your strength.
Alternatively, bodyweight exercises such as squats and press-ups, or using resistance bands, are great ways to build strength.
Having well-developed muscle can help to minimise injuries. Two 30-minute strength sessions a week is a good start.
If you wish to do more you can enlist a personal trainer to help design a tailored programme for you.
Flexibility for how to prevent arthritis
Yoga and pilates are both excellent activities to facilitate the full range of your joint movement.
By keeping the joints mobile it can help to reduce stiffness from poor posture, or from sitting down too long.
Flexibility is also a great help in preventing injury, by allowing more stretch in each limb or joint.
Try stretching every morning when you get up, besides several sessions per week of dedicated flexibility exercise.
Balance to help arthritis
If you find your balance is less good than it was, you may help to focus on improving it.
Balance is linked to posture, so anything that helps you stand or sit straighter is useful.
Exercises like standing on one leg, or practicing Tai-Chi can go a long way to improving your balance.
In addition, the better your balance, the lower the risk of falls. Falls can lead to joint injuries, which may then cause arthritis. Managing fall risk is thus extremely helpful.
Try to fit in a few sessions of balance work per week.
You may like to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regime.
A personal trainer or yoga instructor can teach you how to do exercises correctly to avoid injury.
They might also create a program that gradually increases in intensity as your fitness improves. Joining an exercise group or a progressive class might be a good idea.
Adjustments to daily life you can make
There are some minor adjustments to your daily life everyone can make to minimise strain on joints. These adjustments, plus maintaining a healthy weight and good diet and exercise, will stop you asking, how to prevent arthritis?
Lifting and carrying
- Always lift with the legs rather than the back when picking things up. This isn’t just for heavy lifting – you can still cause a minor injury by carelessly picking up something light.
- Once you have picked up an object, carry it close to the body, avoiding wrist, lower back or elbow strain.
- When carrying shopping or heavy bags, consider using a well-balanced backpack to avoid excess strain on finger and wrist joints. Alternatively, carry the bags in the elbow’s crook, closer to the body.
- Consider using kinetic tape to support joints that see heavy use. For example, keen tennis players might tape their knees, wrists and elbows. Runners might consider a light knee or ankle support.
Around the house
- Try using gadgets in the kitchen to avoid excess chopping or stirring. Perhaps a potato ricer instead of mashing with a fork. A mandoline or food processor for chopping and slicing ingredients. A soup maker or blender instead of pressing on a stick blender to puree things.
- Replace your utensils for those with easy grip, large handles. This includes writing implements. Ergonomically designed pens are available to ease the pressure of gripping onto a thin, regular pen.
- You may consider using a brace if you cook a lot, hand sew, or knit, or any other repetitive activity. Perhaps a wrist brace for a lot of chopping or sewing. Also, consider using a shoulder motion for stirring.
In the workplace
- Ergonomically designed keyboards and mice are also available for computer work. Laptop or monitor risers are also available to achieve a good neck and shoulder position while seated at the desk.
- If you type a lot, consider using dictation software to avoid RSI in the fingers and wrists. This is also useful to use as it is portable. You may be able to go for a walk as you dictate into the software.
- For those who like to use their phone or tablet a lot, consider using a stylus to avoid overuse of one or two fingers. You might also try using a stand to avoid finger strain while holding the device. Alternatively, using the palm of the hand to hold the divide will avoid resting it on fingers.
Taking care of your body
The cartilage in joints starts wearing down with use. It can also tear or rupture through injury, perhaps from a fall or from playing sports.
In order to prevent the traumatic injury of a joint, which could lead to arthritis in the future, try these tips:
Make sure you have the right shoes for what you are doing, and utilise any safety equipment on offer. Slips and trips can easily lead to injuries.
Make sure you warm up before any sporting activity and cool down afterwards. Make stretching part of your daily routine.
Protect your body
Protecting your body is all about trying to find a balance between staying active and minimising risk.
Yes, climbing stairs a lot, kneeling and squatting may all lead to joint problems later on.
But that keeping those exercises within your daily routine can help you stay active and independent in later life.
It’s all about balance, moving just enough, in the right way for the most appropriate amount of time for your body.
How to prevent arthritis
You can help prevent arthritis by finding the right balance between staying active and reducing repetitive actions.
A healthy diet, additional Omega-3 fatty acids and managing your weight can also help lessen the risk of arthritis.
Remember always seek advice from your GP before undertaking a new exercise regime.
Certified personal trainers are also available to design training programmes that are tailored to your specific needs.
And if you’re looking for more information on the types of arthritis go here.
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