Listening to my favorite radio show yesterday, I had to laugh. A woman who called the show detailed how she stretched her leg from the knee to the toe one morning before rising from bed, and then she heard a bone crack. She was shocked to learn from the doctor that she had broken a metatarsal. The DJ personalities could not stop laughing as they tried to comprehend how this happened from a simple stretch. The point is that we have some risk factors for developing physical ailments as we age. Other factors relate to our genetics, family history, environmental exposure, lifestyle, diet, and mental health. When it comes to arthritis prevention, there are some things we can do to prevent the severity of arthritis.
The Risk Factors
Advancing age, being female, having a family history of arthritis, and prior injuries are examples of risk factors for developing arthritis. With the risk factors for this disease, you can’t prevent it from developing in your body. Arthritis involves the inflammation of one or more joints in the body, which may cause pain, stiffness, discomfort, and reduced mobility.
The Preventable Factors
There are other risk factors that influence the onset of arthritis that people can modify. According to the Arthritis Foundation, these are certain behaviors and circumstances people can change. A few examples are:
1. Prevent osteoarthritis by maintaining a healthy weight.
2. Prevent rheumatoid arthritis by not smoking.
3. Prevent gout by consuming a healthful diet that is low in sugar, alcohol, and purines.
We like how these are simple guidelines that readers can follow to prevent certain types of arthritis. However, keep in mind that if you already have the risk factors that you can’t change, you could still develop some form of this disorder.
The biggest thing that you can do to prevent arthritis, especially before reaching your fifties, is to use proper safety equipment and to practice stretching and exercising in ways that protect the joints. This includes wearing a safety belt when you lift heavy items and supporting weaker joints (i.e. wearing a knee brace to prevent an ACL tear while playing basketball).
Avoid Repetitive Motions
Some people are inclined to continue with an activity that they know causes too much stress on their joints, but they do it anyway because they love it. A good example would be a person who has a prior knee surgery but continues to run. If her physician tells her to avoid running to prevent injury, she should listen. If she continues to run, she causes more wear-and-tear on the knee, increasing the likelihood that arthritis will develop in a more severe form than if she had stopped.
Look to the Future
When you experience an injury, a surgery, or a change in your body that affects your ability to perform an activity, be positive and look to the future. We recommend that you find another physical activity that you love as a replacement for the activity that you should avoid. Think about your body as a valuable commodity. Keeping it in optimum condition is your duty if you believe that health is wealth. Because your body has a limited lifespan, you wouldn’t want to keep engaging in activities that damage it. While your body is resilient and capable of healing many problems, there’s only so much it can do to recover from injuries or damage caused by repetitive motions that stress the joints. Reaching an advanced age may cause you to make some modifications to your lifestyle, but your best bet is to control conditions like diabetes that affect your ability to heal and to quit smoking.