Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Healthy Joints Need Your Help

Your Joints Need Movement

Many people have the mistaken notion that they’re going to “save” their joints by not moving them.  But the truth is healthy joints need movement.  In fact, they thrive on it! 

To understand why, think of your joints as movable “hinges” where your bones connect.  Inside your joints is cartilage, which you can think of as a sponge.  The cartilage is surrounded by a liquid, called the synovial fluid.  Every time you move, you’re drawing nutrients into your joints—and releasing waste.  Both of which are critical to healthy joints.

Joint health is a clear case of “use it or lose it”—and here are some easy ways to get moving.

No More Weak Knees

Knees are often our "weak links" when it comes to joints because they carry much of the weight and do so much of the work! "Knee strengthening" is really quadriceps strengthening—that's the large muscle group that runs down the front of your thigh. Remember, your joints are no stronger than the muscles and ligaments that support them.

Here’s how to strengthen your knees:

  • Sit in a chair with your back straight and butt tucked into the back of the chair. Place a towel under your knees for support, and slowly lift one leg to a horizontal position. Pause, holding the position for a count of three, then slowly lower your leg to the starting position. Then, repeat with your other leg.  Work up to eight to 10 knee extensions per leg.
  • Sit on a high table or workbench, with your legs dangling. Suspend weights from your ankles, using a small bucket, purse or any pouch with a strap (start with two to five pounds). Lift the weight up while extending your knee as far as you can and hold steady for a few seconds. Then slowly lower the leg until your knee is again at a 90-degree angle. Repeat 10–15 times, progressively increasing both the weight and number of reps.

Great advice from Dr. Williams