What Causes Flat FeetAs we enter 2024, there are probably a number of quality resolutions on your list. However, an overlooked but vital addition could be to begin taking serious, intentional care of your joint health. But, what does this mean, exactly? That's what we're here to explain!

The following tips are recommended by Dr. Brian Kelly, an orthopaedic surgeon with years of experience and a commitment to helping the general public learn how to keep their joints healthy and strong for as long as possible.

  1. #1: Keep On Moving

    Consistent, low-impact exercise is one of the key ways to keep joints healthy. Whether or not you consider yourself a particularly 'active' person, it's important to incorporate some kind of low-impact exercise into your daily regimen. By doing so, you'll be able to experience far less stiffness in your joints later in life, with the added bonus of staying in good shape (or getting in better shape)!

    If you're not sure about what types of exercise or activity you can add to your routine, the good news is that there are several good ones to choose from. Any of these can be easy, fun ways to contribute to strong, healthy joints through regular exercise:

    • Yoga and/ or pilates classes
    • Water aerobics
    • Dancing
    • Spinning or cycling
    • Swimming
    • Long daily walks

    The key is staying consistent and keeping it low impact on your joints. Don't worry about pushing yourself too hard; this isn't a competition but rather an opportunity to keep your joints healthy by keeping them moving.

  2. #2: Give Yourself Healthy Fuel

    Something that is just as important for your joint pain as your output is your input. A healthy diet is one of the cornerstones of maintaining healthy joints. After all, food is fuel!

    Part of a joint-friendly diet is the consumption of foods that reduce inflammation. This includes things like fish, olive oil, nuts, and fresh or frozen vegetables. It's also important to consume foods that contain high contents of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D is important for bone and joint health. However, many people in Pittsburgh are deficient in this vitamin because it is activated by sunlight, which we don’t get enough of (especially in the winter!). Daily supplements can be a good way to ensure you get enough of the vitamins that you need. A supplement called turmeric (active ingredient curcumin) has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation and delay the progression of arthritis.

    Alongside its ability to mitigate inflammation, eating healthy is also a good way to maintain a healthy weight. Too much excess weight can produce unnecessary stress on your joints, and if you already have a chronic condition, this could be exacerbating your symptoms.

  3. #3: Incorporate Strength Training

    Although we've already discussed the importance of low-impact physical activity, it's also important to stress the benefits of strength training. Without proper muscle mass, completing tasks like lifting heavy objects can lead to increased joint problems down the line. That's because the muscles keep your joints safe from the strain that comes with this sort of movement. Strength training is also important to maintaining bone density as we age, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones that can happen as a result.

    When you begin adding strength training into your routine, it is imperative that you start slowly and do not overdo it. This could have the opposite of your desired effect, instead damaging your joints by adding more stress to them too quickly. Focus on lower weights and a higher number of repetitions with each exercise, especially when you first start; also be sure to take frequent breaks as needed.

  4. #4: Don't Underestimate Posture

    An often overlooked contributor to joint and muscle pain is poor posture. Maintaining a good posture when performing exercises, lifting, or other daily activities can protect your joints and muscles from avoidable pain and damage.

    You should attempt to avoid positions that result in one area of the body carrying the full force of a weight or exercise. For example, if you're carrying a heavy bag with two straps, don't just sling it around one shoulder. Instead, notice the big difference that comes with placing it on both shoulders. By splitting the burden, your weight-bearing joints don't have to work as hard.

    The importance of good posture even extends to things like sedentary work and simple activities of daily living. Desk work tends to lead to arching of the shoulders and back, which is a frequent cause of neck, back, and shoulder pain. Focus on sitting upright with your shoulders back; you can also consider a standing desk, which promotes better posture.

  5. #5: Kick Unhealthy Habits

    According to the Arthritis Foundation, studies suggest that those who smoke are marginally more likely to develop arthritis and other forms of joint conditions. Going into the New Year, there's no better time to attempt to quit this habit. Aside from the ability to improve your joint health, kicking habits like smoking can have lasting impacts on your overall health.

    That isn't the only unhealthy habit that you can change to impact the health of your joints. For instance, if you spend excessive time watching TV, switch to a podcast and take a short walk while you listen. There are always compromises and small changes that one can take to manage pain and stay healthy for as long as possible.

  6. #6: Don't Ignore Your Joint Pain

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't ignore the signs of adverse joint health. There are many who wait too long to see a qualified orthopaedic specialist, and their health conditions only worsen in the meantime. The most important thing that you can do to keep your joints healthy is to listen when they tell you that they need additional care.

Schedule A Visit With Dr. Brian Kelly Today!

Painful joints can be an incredibly stressful condition. Whether it's arthritis, an old injury, or something more acute like a ligament sprain or tear, the only way to know for sure what steps to take next is to get the condition professionally evaluated.

As a qualified orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Brian Kelly has the winning combination of compassion and know-how to evaluate your next steps with as much efficiency as possible.

Dr. Brian Kelly, MD is an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine doctor experienced in treating a variety of injuries and conditions. Dr. Kelly and his expert team will make sure that you get the treatment you need to get back in the game. Schedule an appointment at the offices of Dr. Brian Kelly today.