About 3 years ago I noticed that my knees made a creaking sound every time I would squat down.  Not when working out, but just to squat picking something up or to sit on the floor.  Being in my thirties, it never occurred to me that I should start protecting my joints early.  That is something you assume you will have to deal with when you are more senior right?

Over the years as a personal trainer, I encountered many people of all ages that experienced joint discomfort.  While we will all likely feel some discomfort as we get older, there are things that you can do now to slow down the degeneration process of your joints and keep you feeling younger for many years to come.  Just like maintenance for your car to prevent it from breaking down, your joints need care to keep them going.

Here are my top 4 tips to maintain healthy joints:

Good Nutrition

Maintaining a healthy weight eases the amount of pressure on your joints.  Filling your plate with veggies, fruits, lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats will help you achieve a weight that will not put an extreme amount of stress on your joints. According to arthritis.org, inflammatory foods to limit to prevent joint discomfort are: sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, Omega 6 fatty acids (not to be confused with Omega 3 which is good for your joints), refined carbs, MSG, gluten and casein (proteins found in wheat and dairy), aspartame, and alcohol.

Exercise CorrectlyJoints

Proper joint alignment is so critical in minimizing the stress on your body.  While exercise is definitely a component in strengthening muscles to support your joints, improper use can cause more harm than good.  If you are new to exercise or unsure if you are doing it right, I suggest hiring a certified professional to show you the ropes.  It can help to have someone with experience watch you exercise and make modifications or adjustments to fit your body so you stay injury free.

Replace Your Shoes

As shock absorbers for your body, the shoes you run or workout in wear out over time.  Hanging onto your favorite pair of shoes past their prime means that your joints now receive that shock.  It is recommended to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles, 6 months of regular use, when the shoe is uneven on a flat surface, or it has noticeable creasing along the midsole (visible from the side).  Think of how good a new shoe feels when you put them on for the first time.  There’s a reason for that.

Joint Supplements

Research done by the Mayo clinic shows strong scientific evidence that both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can provide treatment for osteoarthritis. Both are integral structural components to cartilage. Chondroitin provides much of the resistance for cartilage deterioration while glucosamine plays a vital role in building cartilage.  This same research suggests that effective doses of chondroitin and glucosamine are approximately 800mg-1000mg and 1200mg-1500mg respectively.  Always consult your physician prior to taking any new supplement.

What do you do to keep your joints healthy?