The structure of a human joint
What is a human joint? Well, in the simplest terms, they are the place where two bones meet. All your bones – bar one – form a joint with other bones. The exception being the hyoid bone in your neck. Joints hold your bones together and allow your skeleton to move.
In turn, joints are held together and supported by ligaments, which are tough bands of connective tissue. Meanwhile, smooth cartilage prevents bones from causing friction as they move against each other. In freely moveable joints – otherwise known as ‘synovial joints’ – the whole joint is encased within a membrane that’s filled with a thick liquid called synovial fluid. This helps to give the joints extra cushioning and keeps them moving smoothly.
Of the many joints there are in the human body, not all of them are moving, however. Some joints are fixed, while others have a little flexibility.
Types of joints
Fibrous jointsThese joints connect bones but largely speaking don’t allow for any movement, thanks to the thick connective tissue that sits between the hinges of these joints.
Cartilaginous jointsThese are joints that unite bones with cartilage. They allow for a little movement, such as the joints in your spine and ribs.
These joints are all about allowing your body to move, from sitting and standing, to walking and running – think your shoulder, hip, elbow, wrist, knee and ankle joints. As mentioned above, synovial joints are filled with lubricating synovial fluid, and encased within a joint cavity. These joints are often supported by surrounding ligaments, which help prevent injury by limiting movement. The six types of synovial joints are shown in the diagram below:
So, now we know more about how human joints function when they’re in peak condition, let’s find out what happens to our joints when we experience stiffness, along with signs to watch out for.
Signs of joint stiffnessIf you’re experiencing stiff joints, you might:
- Find it difficult to get your joints ‘warmed up’ first thing in the morning
- Take longer than usual to get up out of a chair
- Have trouble getting up after sitting at your desk for a while
- Try to avoid making sudden movements
Why we get joint stiffness
The ageing processAgeing is, of course, a privilege. But sadly, there are some less than desirable aspects that come along with it, and that includes the tendency to develop joint stiffness. When we’re young, our joints are cushioned with plenty of cartilage and synovial fluid, and our ligaments are extremely flexible. Fast forward a few years and time can start to take its toll on our synovial joints, such as our elbows and knees.
Why does this happen? Well, we produce less synovial fluid as we age, so our joints are less lubricated and are unable to bend, stretch and straighten as freely. The cartilage that cushions the end of our bones inside the joints start to thin and this results in the joints feeling stiffer. What’s more, the ligaments inside the joint that connect our bones together become shorter and less flexible which, in turn, can also make our joints feel less flexible.
The weatherDid you know that a change of weather can affect your joints. It’s not just an old wives’ tale. This is because a drop in barometric pressure may make your tendons and muscles expand and contract, creating joint stiffness. Plus, low temperatures can make the fluid inside joints thicker, so they feel don’t move as freely.
The time of dayHave you ever woken up and thought your joints were feeling a bit – for want of a better word – creaky? It’s not uncommon. When you’re asleep, the synovial fluid around your joints is less mobile, meaning it can’t ‘grease’ the joint as much. Usually, though, once you’re up and moving about, the fluid can circulate around your joints and make you feel more flexible.
How iMOVE can help with joint stiffnessIf you’re looking for a natural way to ease stiffness and maintain joint health, you could try a joint supplement like iMOVE. We developed iMOVE with the aim of supporting people who want to keep up an active lifestyle for as long as possible, to live their best lives. And the key to that is healthy, flexible joints. Enter iMOVE. Our supercharged joint supplement contains only the highest-quality ingredients that are clinically proven to make a palpable difference to your joints. These are:
ActivEase® Green Lipped Mussel. This provides a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids and Chondroitin to help soothe stiff joints. Our unique mussels are sustainably farmed in the crystal-clear waters of New Zealand, and are meticulously harvested and cold extracted to preserve their supreme quality.
Glucosamine. Glucosamine is a hugely important nutrient for maintaining joint health, providing the building blocks for connective tissues such as cartilage. iMOVE contains the purest form of Glucosamine available, known as Glucosamine HCl.
Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a major part of the joint's synovial fluid, and helps to lubricate and cushion your joints.
Manganese. This mineral supports collagen formation in the cartilage, tendons and ligaments to maintain joint health.
And one last thingIt’s also worth remembering that exercise is also one of the best remedies for joint stiffness. However, always make sure you stick to the limits of what feels comfortable for you and don’t push yourself too hard. Moving your joints often will ensure your bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are kept as strong as possible, while keeping that all-important synovial fluid oiling your joints.
Tell us – what are your secrets to keeping your joints healthy and flexible? We’d love to hear your tops tips over on our Facebook and Instagram pages.