Muscle Strengthening: How to Help My Joints ?
From head to toe, your body craves movement. Your muscles support your bones in order for you to get from point A to point B. And your bones — in order to have something to grasp onto — connect to where two bones meet, your joints. Like anything that works hard, wear and tear is natural, but our musculoskeletal system — which includes the joints, muscles and bones — can be fed with exercise, a healthy diet and supplements to remain resilient.
How Muscles & Joints Work Together
While your joints have no strength like muscles, they do have an elasticity to move with your bones. And the joints and muscles work in tandem to help you do everything from brushing your teeth to swinging a golf club. Strengthening your muscles is one of the fundamental ways to help protect your joints. Muscles help carry the weight and stress of your movements. Increasing the strength of your muscles gives your joints greater support and helps properly align your bones. If you’ve ever had surgery or suffered from an injury that required physical therapy, then you know the main course of action your therapist took was strengthening the muscles around the injured area. Consider a tabletop as muscle and table legs as joints. If the top is made of a sturdy wood, for example, that wood will keep those table leg “joints” in place. If the table legs were topped with a flimsier surface like fabric, the legs would have nothing to grasp onto and fall to the floor, potentially damaging the whole table. When this concept is translated into the human body, you can see how strong muscles work with joints to keep you upright, balanced and avoiding misalignment.
Where to Start Strengthening Muscles for Joint Health?
Adding movement to help strengthen joints and muscles to your daily routine today, will be a big win in the long-term. We know, most of us aren’t gym rats — if you are, good for you for focusing on maintaining a healthy body. But if you’re like many Americans who are accustomed to a low-key lifestyle that involves time in front of a computer for most of the day, then the important key here is to start small. The simplest place to begin can be right around your home. Setting small goals for physical activity is the ideal way to increase stamina and reach new heights to improve the way you feel. Begin by simply walking for 10 minutes or around the block each day; the weight of your body’s 600 muscles is enough to get you started in strengthening as you move. From there, tack on five more minutes each week until you’re accomplishing a 30 minute daily walk. Introduce ways to make it fun, bring a neighbor or friend, download your favorite podcast as company along the way or just enjoy the fresh air and your surroundings.
For your walk, be sure to set your sights on good posture and engage your core. What does that mean? Well, tightening the muscles of your stomach – or core as it’s often referred to – versus letting your tummy relax, is a kinetic way to get the abdominals working. And if they’re working, they’re strengthening. Meanwhile, proper posture helps support your neck and spine. If you’re slouched over a computer or phone for a good portion of your day, then you’re likely straining your neck and back. Your shoulders get tight and uncomfortable and soon you feel tension all over. It’s small objectives like these that help counteract discomfort and move you toward your goals.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who experiences chronic joint discomfort, choose low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, gardening and Tai Chi to help ease those muscles into an activity that will support you. Committing a small portion of your day to stretching will go a long way, too. Make time to give your muscles a good stretch to stay limber holding each stretch for about 30 seconds. As always, check with your doctor about what’s best for you and your abilities.
When you’re ready to move onto the next level, begin focusing on muscle strengthening exercises like weight training. Don’t fret, this doesn’t involve 300lb bench presses or flexing in competitions. This is simply to tone muscles so they work for you and your body. With just a few items around the house, like a heavy book or a jug of laundry detergent to double as hand weights, you can begin right away. Also consider resistance bands or, when you’re comfortable, slightly heftier hand weights to increase your routine. Of course if you belong to a gym, encourage yourself to try new machines. Making sense of how those weight machines function can be intimidating. Take your time to understand the instructions or diagrams. Some gyms offer a complimentary training session to get you on the right track to avoid injury. Proper form is invaluable when lifting weights. And if you feel like you “don’t belong” in the weight area because the muscle-bound members nearby make you feel silly, just remember, everyone had to start somewhere. Caring for your body is not a competition, so disregard those around you and make yourself the #1 VIP here — this is your time.
Always remember to pay attention to how your body feels when you’re working out. It is possible to do too much. There is the good kind of hurt, when you know you’re doing something positive for your body, and there’s certainly the bad kind of hurt. You should not feel pain while you work out, so take things slow and gradual, checking in on yourself often.
Diet also plays a hand in helping to strengthen your muscles. Choosing foods that are high in vitamin D and calcium, not only supports bone density but improves joints too. Nutritious foods like leafy greens (break out the salads), almonds and low-fat dairy gives your body what it needs to maintain healthy joints. You know that you’re Made to Move, so adding Triple Strength + Vitamin D delivers additional support to your joint care.*
To support your joint function, supplements like Osteo Bi-Flex® Triple Strength + Vitamin D give your joints the added nourishment they need.* By adding a daily dose of Triple Strength + Vitamin D, you’re getting the power of Joint Shield™ — an ingredient that incorporates beneficial herbs that work hard to support your flexibility and joint health.* It’s the drug-free way to experience an improvement in comfort in as little as 7 days.*†
Feeling strong and able-bodied also helps to build self-confidence, and we want you to feel great all around. You were Made to Move and the best way to support your range of motion and help maintain joint health is to do exactly that. Get moving. We believe in you.