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If you’re like most people, you don’t think much about your joints until they start complaining.

But your joints deserve attention long before they cause continuous discomfort. “Prevention really is the best medicine when it comes to joint pain,” says sports medicine physician Dominic King, DO.

Here are five tips for safeguarding your joints — and the cartilage that supports them — as you age:

1. Plan to quit smoking — and follow through

Smoking and tobacco use are risk factors for everything from cardiovascular problems to cancer. Smoking can hamper your joints, too.

“Because smoking increases inflammation throughout your body, it can make it harder for your body to recover and heal from an injury,” Dr. King says.

Obviously, it’s not easy to give up smoking for good. But consider this: Within eight hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal and the oxygen levels in your blood increase.

If you’re thinking about quitting, plan ahead and seek support to increase your chances of success.

2. Replace energy drinks and soda with water

Water makes up about 80 percent of your body’s cartilage (the flexible, connective tissue that cushions your joints). If you don’t stay well-hydrated, your body will pull water from cartilage and other areas, he says. This can wreak havoc on your joints.

Dr. King’s advice: Replace soda and energy drinks with water. This will help deliver better hydration to your joints and heart.

Not sure how much water you should consume? Listen to your body’s cues: Make sure you have water available at all times. When you feel thirsty, drink. And increase hydration during hot weather and when exercising.

3. Don’t let extra pounds overtax your joints

Your joints are meant to sustain a certain amount of force, Dr. King says. If you’re overweight or underweight, you’re likely putting more stress on your joints than you realize.

“If you’re overweight, each additional 10 pounds of weight you carry adds 20 to 39 pounds of force to each knee,” he says. “If you’re underweight, you lack the muscle bulk to keep your joints strong and stable.”

If your weight isn’t where you want it to be, enlist a physician’s or dietitian’s help in finding a healthy eating plan that works for you.

Consider an approach like the Mediterranean diet, which includes a hearty mix of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and healthy fats. This can help reduce inflammation and also protect your heart, Dr. King says.

Regular exercise can also improve your odds of maintaining a healthy weight. Dr. King’s favorites for reducing weight on your joints include:

  • Bicycling
  • Pilates
  • Swimming
  • Walking in the shallow end of a pool
  • Walking on a treadmill with no incline
  • Yoga

If you’re new to exercise, it’s best to work with a physical therapist. He or she can ensure that you’re healthy enough structurally to tolerate exercise, Dr. King says.

4. Always warm up and cool down

“A lot of people go straight from work to the gym,” Dr. King says. “Before stretching their muscles and warming up their joints, they get right on the treadmill.” 

This can spell trouble because skipping your warm-up can put your joints at greater risk of strain and overloading, he says.

For best results, warm-up and cool-down exercises should last for about five minutes. Work with the same muscles you’ll use during exercise, but at a slower pace. Warming up is especially important as you age; older joints are often less resilient, Dr. King says.

Not sure where to begin? Watch this video to learn the proper technique for warm-ups, such as walking lunges, sumo squat side lifts and butt kicks.

5. Listen to your body’s cues

Muscle soreness after exercise is one thing. Joint pain after exercise is another.

“If you get sore after exercise in a way that makes sense for the activity you did, and the soreness easily goes away, you’re probably OK,” says Dr. King. “But if you develop joint pain, it’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.”

That’s when it’s time to see a doctor. It may be something simple to correct, such as incorrect form. Or something more complex, such as early-onset osteoarthritis, may need to be addressed.

“We can’t prevent a disease or slow its progression until we know it’s there,” says Dr. King.

SOURCE: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/09/5-best-ways-to-safeguard-your-joints-as-you-age/

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Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19

Dear Patients:

Our patients, employees and family are our top priority at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

We ask you to not visit any of our locations if you have symptoms such as fever, sneezing, coughing and possible shortness of breath.

Please cancel your appointment and re-schedule once you are feeling better and are no longer suffering with symptoms.

Only non-symptomatic patients will be seen. No exceptions.

Accompanying family members – including children – are asked to remain in the waiting area and will not be allowed to enter the exam rooms.

During this time of high concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are taking extra precautions to maintain the highest possible standards of safety and cleanliness. Please be advised that we are carefully following recommendations from both the CDC and WHO and are here to help guide you through this time if needed.

Some steps we are taking to keeping safe:

  1. We know how important cleanliness is and always maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. To further offer you peace of mind, we have increased the frequency of the cleaning of our office.
  2. Rest assured that hand washing is strictly followed. Hand sanitizer is available to all staff and patients.
  3. Additionally, if you have recently traveled to a country with high rates of the coronavirus or have been on a cruise, please reschedule your visit for at least 14 days from your return date. We will gladly accommodate your needs to reschedule. At that time, a telehealth interface can be arranged if necessary.

Find up-to-date and accurate information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and feel free to reach out with questions.

- Your team at Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C.

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To learn more about Long Island Spine Specialists – and to discover how we can relieve your pain and help you find an improved quality of life – please contact our office today and schedule a consultation.

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