Getty Images Image by: Getty Images
You could be born predisposed to joint problems, says Alex Scott, assistant professor in the physical therapy department at the University of British Columbia and researcher at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility in Vancouver. "Some of us are microklutzes," he says. "We don't move as fluidly or as effectively as others naturally do, so we're placing more strain than we need to on our joints." It could be that you have flat feet or inward-turned knees, or maybe you just land harder on your feet. To find out if your joints are taking a beating, have a gait analysis done, then, if necessary, talk to a physiotherapist about corrective exercises that can help you move more effectively.
Stretch it out
Think of the movements we make most often: We bend our knees when sitting and curl our fingers when typing—we're always flexing forward. "Lots of people wear out their joints because they're constantly flexing; they never do extension," says Maria Kristina Antonious, registered physiotherapist and clinic director at Pro Physio in Ottawa. Set up a time in your day to actively move your joints in the reverse direction. Straighten your legs, pull your fingers back until there's resistance and swing your arms all the way up while arching your back.
Strong muscles save your joints from being hammered too hard, but it's particularly important to have a strong core and glutes to take the pressure off your hips and knees, says Antonious. "Your core and your glutes are your powerhouses," she says. "If your core is weak, your quads have to work harder, your hamstrings have to work harder, your hip muscles have to work harder." The same goes for your glutes. All of this can lead to loading too much weight on a certain part of a joint, which is a sure way to cause injury.
Strengthen these muscles and prevent joint injuries with these easy exercises.
|This content is vetted by medical experts
|This story was originally part of "Your Joints" in the April 2015 issue.
Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!