Best Yoga Poses to Strengthen Your Bones
How to Keep Your Bones and Joints Healthy
Keeping your bones and joints healthy becomes more important as you age. Serious conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis can make it hard to move around and may lead to even more medical issues. There are simple things that you can do to reduce your likelihood of developing these conditions or at least prevent them from becoming worse. Simple lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, getting more calcium, and incorporating weight bearing exercises can help to protect your bones and joints.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet for Your Bones and Joints
Incorporate more calcium rich foods into your diet.Getting enough calcium is essential to keep your bones healthy and strong. The best way to make sure that you are getting enough calcium is to eat a diet that includes lots of calcium rich foods. Calcium rich foods include:
- Low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat yogurt or milk.
- Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, and turnip greens.
- Foods fortified with calcium, such as orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, and tofu products.
Eat foods that contain Vitamin D.Not many foods contain Vitamin D, so it is easy to become deficient. The primary way that we get vitamin D is from the sun, but if you live in a place that does not get much sun, you will have to find ways to get it from the foods you eat. Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, such as tuna and sardines.
- Egg yolks
- Fortified milk, yogurt, or soy products
- Beef liver
Get enough Vitamin C.Vitamin C is necessary to help repair tissues, including the cartilage in your joints. Make sure that your diet includes plenty of vitamin C rich foods to ensure that you are getting your daily allowance, but do not exceed 2,000 milligrams per day. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, and lemons
- Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries
- Tropical fruits, such as pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and mango
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- Leafy greens such as kale, cabbage, and spinach
- Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes
- Winter squash
Boost bone density with Vitamin K.Some studies have suggested that vitamin K may help to promote bone density.Other studies have shown that vitamin K does not help promote bone density, but it may help prevent bone fractures and cancers.Consider adding a vitamin K supplement or more vitamin K rich foods to your diet. Foods that are rich in vitamin K include:
- Leafy greens
Reduce your sodium intake and increase your potassium intake.A diet that is high in salt may cause you to lose bone density. To eliminate this factor, follow a low-sodium diet and increase your intake of potassium rich foods to help offset the salt you do consume. Look for low-sodium options for your favorite foods and avoid adding salt to the foods you eat.Add potassium rich foods to help offset your sodium intake. Most fruits and vegetables are high in potassium. Some common potassium rich foods include:
- Baked potatoes
- Orange juice
- Winter squash
- White beans
- Sweet potatoes
Consume less caffeine.The occasional cup of coffee is not bad for you, but drinking too much caffeine can cause your bones to lose calcium. Keep your caffeine intake under 300 milligrams per day to help prevent these losses. Keep in mind that caffeine can be found in many different beverages, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and hot chocolate.
- Try switching to half-decaffeinated coffee or switch to drinks that are naturally caffeine free, such as herbal tea, water, and juice.
Moderate alcohol consumption.People who drink a lot of alcohol are more likely to have broken bones and brittle bones. Drinking not only interferes with your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, it also results in an increase in hormones that deplete bone density. To avoid these side effects, drink only in moderation or get help to quit drinking if you have problems moderating your consumption.
- Talk to your doctor if you think that you may have a problem with alcohol addiction. You may need help to get your drinking under control.
Try glucosamine supplements.Glucosamine is a chemical compound which occurs naturally in your body and supports the cartilage in your joints. It is not found in any foods, so to increase your glucosamine, you must take supplements.
- Try taking 500 milligrams three times a day.
Exercising to Promote Healthy Bones and Joints
Talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen.It is important to discuss your plans with your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen. Your doctor can help you to decide what exercises will be best for you based on your age, weight, and any medical conditions that you have. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist if you have significant progress to make before you can safely exercise on your own.
Include weight-bearing exercises to build bone density.Weight bearing exercises help your body to build more bone mass and maintain the bone density that you already have. Any exercise that forces you to work against gravity would be considered a weight bearing exercise. Exercises like swimming and biking are not considered weight bearing exercises because you are not bearing your full body weight on the ground. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you find that it is too hard to do 30 minutes at once, try exercising for 10 minutes three times per day. Some examples of weight bearing exercises include:
- Playing soccer
- Playing basketball
- Playing tennis
Choose low-impact exercises to protect your joints.If you are more focused on finding exercises that will not aggravate your joints, go for low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and biking. These exercises will give you a good cardiovascular workout without causing too much stress on your joints. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you find that it is too hard to do 30 minutes at once, try exercising for 10 minutes three times per day.
Try resistance training.Building strength in your muscles can also help to protect your bones and joints. Having strong muscles can actually help prevent osteoporosis. Make sure that you build strength in all of your major muscle groups, especially your core (back and stomach). Having a strong core will help prevent posture problems later on. Aim to do some strength training every other day.
Wear protective gear when doing exercises that might injure your joints.Your joints can get injured while you exercise, so it is important to protect them if there is a chance they might get injured. Common activities that can result in injured joints include rollerblading, skateboarding, and ice skating. Make sure that you wear elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, and a helmet when doing any exercise that might cause a joint injury.
Consider taking a yoga class.You can also help to keep your bones and joints healthy by incorporating balance and stretching exercises into your exercise regimen. Yoga is a great option to incorporate balance and stretching exercises because of the many different types of poses. Look for a beginner’s yoga class if you have never tried it before.
Try vibration therapy.Vibration machines are shown to increase in bone density in some cases. There is more research that needs to be done, but for now, there is favorable research showing that it may have some benefit for those that can’t engage in strenuous exercise or require something less stressful to their bones.
- The main type of vibration therapy is called Whole Body Vibration (WBV). The person stands on a machine with a vibrating platform, using a railing for support. The intensity of the vibration can be adjusted; beginners should start with a low intensity vibration and work up to higher intensities.
- You should not use vibration therapy if you are prone to blood clots, have a pacemaker, are pregnant, or have inner ear problems.
Allow your body time to recover.Try to give yourself a day to rest each week so that you do not injure yourself. Your body needs time to repair itself after you have exercised, so listen to your body and do not push yourself too far in the beginning. Designate one day per week as your rest day or do something easy on that day like taking a leisurely walk or taking a short bike ride.
Take care of your body after exercising.Make sure that you care for your body immediately after your workouts as well. If your joints become inflamed, you can use ice to dull the pain and reduce swelling. Wrap a paper towel around an ice pack or a plastic bag filled with ice and apply the ice pack to your sore joints.
- Over exercising can cause injuries and that may affect your progress. Talk to your doctor right away if you think you may have injured yourself while exercising.
Taking Other Important Steps for Bone & Joint Health
Quit smoking if you are a smoker.Smoking has been shown to cause bone mass depletion. If you are a smoker, quit smoking right away to avoid losing any more bone mass as a result of your smoking.Smoking causes many other serious health problems as well. If you want to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program in your area.
Maintain a healthy body weight.It is important to maintain a healthy body weight to keep your bones and joints healthy. If you are underweight, you are at a higher risk of bone loss.If you are overweight, you may be causing extra stress on your joints and you may even be at risk of developing osteoarthritis.
- If you are over or under your ideal body weight, talk to your doctor about how you can get to a healthy weight and maintain it.
Change positions throughout the day.You may be avoiding too much extra movement due to joint pain, but having a sedentary job or simply not moving around enough during the day can cause joint pain or make it worse. If you usually sit for long periods of time, try to remember to get up and move around once every couple of hours.
Wear the right shoes.Some shoes put you at higher risk of having joint problems. High heels make it ten times more likely for women to experience joint pain. If you often wear high heels, try switching to a lower heel (less than 3 inches). Also, make sure your shoes are the right size and that they have good cushioning and arch support.
Talk to your physician about bone and joint heath.If you have concerns about your bone and joint health, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can perform tests to determine if your bone density is adequate or if you have low bone density.
- Ask about medications that might help to treat or prevent bone loss.
- Discuss surgical options if you have severe joint pain.
What is the safest way to protect my bones and joints when I am being active and exercising?
Acute pain in my knee joint, what to do?
- If you think you have broken a bone or injured a joint, seek medical attention immediately.
Sources and Citations
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Video: Maintaining Healthy Bones and Joints
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