It’s a common belief that arthritis is inevitable as you grow older and that there are no actions that can prevent a terrible future of achy joints, hunched backs and four wheel walkers. Although it is not possible to completely prevent arthritis, there are many simple actions that people of all ages can undertake NOW to minimise the risk of developing this painful and debilitating condition.
It is true that there are risk factors for arthritis that cannot be changed, however, there are many risk factors that we CAN (and should) take control of, these include:
- Your risk of injuries
- Weak muscles
- Exposure to repetitive tasks involving joint loading
Carrying extra weight on your body increases compression through all joints, especially your knees. Losing weight involves a combination of good nutrition and exercise, unfortunately sometimes finding motivation can be difficult. But there are many different health professionals out there to help keep you on track to achieve your ideal weight to protect your knees and keep you walking, active and able to care for yourself for much longer. Start considering all of your options and keep exercise fun and varied. You can try personal training at the gym or with your highly skilled physiotherapist, swimming, exercise groups, walking or running clubs, Pilates, team sports and much more.
Risk of injuries
Every injury you sustain (especially knee injuries) also increases the chances of you suffering from arthritis later in life. Each injury places more stress on your joints and cartilage causing them to degenerate at a faster rate, drawing arthritis closer and closer. Prevention is the key! You can prevent injuries from occurring by ensuring you have excellent posture, good core stability and strong muscles. Make sure you train and warm-up appropriately for your sport or physical activity and seek professional advice from your Physio for any symptoms.
If an injury does occur (e.g. knocked down during a football game), seek help from a Physiotherapist immediately. Injuries that are not managed correctly or taken through an incorrect full rehabilitation can lead to biomechanical alterations, muscle weakness and altered muscle recruitment patterns. Your Physio can guide you through a rehabilitation program to ensure you not only get better in the short term, but learn why the injury occurred and the techniques to prevent it from happening again. Our experts at Islington Village Health are dedicated to working with your to design an easily sustainable program that can significantly reduce your chance of re-injury.
Repetitive joint loading
Excessive joint loading during repetitive tasks can also cause your cartilage to wear away much faster. Try to spread repetitive tasks out across the day so your body is only required to do one task for 30 minutes at a time before moving on. Be aware of your posture and body mechanics during every task. Make an effort to avoid unnatural or awkward motions, overexertion and muscle fatigue. Listen to what your body is telling you and try to balance rest and activity.