Joint health short test
According to the most recent data from 22 to 30% of all inhabitants of the Earth suffer from different sorts of problems with joints (link). But here is some good news: even if you have a genetic predisposition to this kind of ailment – healthy nutrition, moderate and mindful physical activity, and most importantly – a thorough control over the condition of your joints and a timely visit to a doctor at the slightest changes can significantly delay the onset of the disease and even more – provide a total defence from it. And by the way, if no one in your family had faced the problem of joint pain before – it still makes sense to follow recommendations: your health depends on your lifestyle primarily!
8 exercises for self-diagnosis
As we age, we inevitably lose flexibility and mobility, and our joints become more vulnerable. Even if nothing aches, specialists recommend an annual check-up. This allows to detect and slow down the development of many diseases in early stages.
Here are some simple exercises, which can help to assess how your joints and your spine are doing:
- Stand up straight with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Slowly without rushing start bending down aiming to reach the floor with your palms. If you have managed to put both of your palms flat on the floor- that’s excellent! If you could only touch the floor with your fingertips – not bad! If you were not able to reach the floor at all, perhaps, you should consider visiting a doctor.
- Slowly go back to the initial position: if you could do it without pain in the lower back – you are doing great! If there is even a slight discomfort, it is worth making an appointment with a doctor: it is possible that the processes of destruction of the cartilaginous tissue of the spine have begun.
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs in front of you. From this position, try to bend over so as to reach your knees with your forehead. If everything succeeded without any discomfort – that’s great news! However, if there is pain in the lower back or tension under the knees, most likely – the joints need help.
- Lying on your back, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle and try to stay in this position for as long as possible. Everything is fine if you feel no discomfort. If the back begins to ache, one or both knees hurt, or your legs get tired too quickly – it is worth checking the joints.
- Sit on the floor and spread your straight legs to the sides, put a ruler between your feet so that the zero division is aligned with your heels. Stretch your arms in front of you and start reaching forward without bending your knees. If you can reach the 15 cm mark and beyond – the spinal joints and muscles are in excellent condition. From 5 to 15 cm is also good, but if the result is less than 5 cm, you should pay close attention to the health of your spine.
- Stand up straight, turn your head to the right and try to reach your forearm with your chin. Do the same on the left side. If you managed it without feeling excessive stress or pain in your neck – everything is under control. Otherwise, you should probably see a doctor.
- Try to interlace your fingers behind your back the way so that one hand is pulled back over your shoulder from above, and the other from below over your lower back. If your fingers have touched or even have locked – that is great! If not – your spine and joints are crying for attention and help.
- Slowly walk up and then down the stairs. If during the movement you haven’t felt any unpleasant sensations in your knees, hips or lower back – you are doing just fine. In case of the slightest discomfort you should seek for medical help.
How to protect your joints?
Here are the steps that doctors recommend all of us to take in order to keep our joints mobile and our spine flexible for as long as possible.
Watch your weight
Oddly enough, the biggest enemy of our joints is a visceral fat – the one that envelops the internal organs and accumulates in the waist area. However, even if some extra weight is distributed on the hips and limbs – it is still necessary to track its amount since every additional kilo creates a very serious pressure and stress on the joints which leads to the faster destruction of the tissue.
There is still no credible research that would show the benefits of certain food products for the prevention of joint diseases. But the majority of specialists agree that the biggest contribution to your joints’ health can be achieved from the so-called Mediterranean diet. Firstly, it is rich in healthy polyunsaturated fats, and secondly, it helps maintain a healthy weight.
Articular and cartilage tissue consists of 65-80% water. And the more moisture our body receives, the more mobile and elastic our joints become and the easier it is for them to return to the comfortable healthy position after exertion and to recover from work. So it is highly likely the best thing you can do to treat your joints right now – is simply to have a glass of water.
Choose appropriate physical activity
Movement is as necessary for our joints as proper nutrition. When we give our body a feasible workout – not only muscles develop: during physical activity, the body produces an additional “portion” of cartilaginous tissue more actively, which only contributes to the health of your joints. For this exact reason doctors recommend not to avoid physical exercises even for people who already have the first signs of issues with their joints. However the activities should be safe: swimming, cycling, walking, pilates, yoga, water-aerobics, skiing – all of these sports either place a small amount of stress on the joints or compensate it with the movement (for example, swimming or water-aerobics).
Regardless of your age and your well-being, pay attention to your joints and spine. With no exaggeration, this is not only one of the foundations of our health, but, alas, one of the most vulnerable parts of it. Keep track of your weight, eat healthy, be sure to maintain active lifestyle, and most importantly, regularly conduct tests in order to be able to notice the beginning of unwanted changes in time and take action. Our health is in our hands – remember this!
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