Now that summer is here, we’re getting out to enjoy our favorite warm-weather activities. Some of us may feel a bit like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz, whose joints need a lot of oil and coaxing to start moving again.

Our joints are designed to handle a lot, but—especially as our bodies age—we need to make sure we’re taking proper care of them. Let’s turn our attention to some ideas that will help your joints recover from summer fun and last a lifetime.

Start from the inside out

Add joint-supporting food and supplements to your diet. For example, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish (such as salmon) keep joints healthy and can lower inflammation. A helpful supplement you might look into is glucosamine. Glucosamine is a chemical your body makes that is critical to the growth and health of your cartilage (the cushioning soft tissue inside joints).

A glucosamine supplement may help prevent the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. One study of cyclists found that those who supplemented with glucosamine saw a 22% reduction in the degeneration of knee cartilage, versus only 8% in the others.

Drink plenty of water, too. Water can stimulate your body’s production of synovial fluid (lubricant in joints) and can reduce joint inflammation.

Be on the move

Always talk to your doctor if you have a specific joint issue, but in general it’s a good idea to get up and move around regularly throughout your day.

At work, take breaks from sitting and go for a walk. Change positions frequently when using a computer or watching TV, which will help prevent stiffness in the joints.

It may seem counterintuitive, but often the best way to prevent joint pain is to keep moving.

Stay lose

Keep your muscles limber with daily stretching. Warm up first with a 10-minute walk. If you develop proper flexibility and range of motion, your muscles won’t get tight and pull on the bones in the joints, which causes misalignment and pain.

Alternate stretches with strength-training exercises. Strong muscles take stress off the joints. In fact, numerous studies are linking stretching and exercise with reduced pain from even serious joint conditions like arthritis.

Lighten up

Did you know that every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off your knees? It’s pretty encouraging that even small changes can make such a big difference.

As you’re exercising to lose weight and stay fit, focus on low-impact exercises such as walking, biking, swimming, and strength training. These activities not only burn calories but are easy on your joints.

Work that core

Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles will help keep your body in alignment and protect your spine and other joints. Core strength will also improve your posture, relieving pressure from joints in your neck, back, and hips.

Enhance your balance

Along with strengthening your core muscles, spend a little time each day working on your balance. Strength and balance will help prevent falls and protect your joints from injury.

Here’s a good balance-builder: Practice standing on one foot until you can balance for 30 seconds without touching the other foot down. Stand next to a wall or the back of a chair for help as you practice. Once you can do that, repeat this exercise with your eyes closed.

Your joints serve you day in and day out, so keep them in top shape with a bit of special treatment and a lot of love.

Let’s stay healthier, together,

Your friends at Santo Remedio

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