Do you remember the first time you noticed that your joints were feeling creaky? Was it when you found yourself saying ‘Oof!’ as you got up from a chair? Or when your knees felt stiff as you were walking downstairs? Or maybe the time when it was suddenly more of a challenge to bend down and put on your socks and shoes?
No doubt about it, stiff joints can be annoying. They stop you moving as fluidly and freely as you’d like, and can prevent you from enjoying some of your favourite activities.
Young joints run free
Back in the 70s, Candi Staton sang that ‘Young hearts run free’. You could say that young joints run free too. Because when we’re young, our joints are at their fluid and flexible best.
Where two bones meet, we have joints that help protect the bones from rubbing together. The articulated joints at our elbows, knees, ankles, shoulders and hips are called synovial joints. Inside these all-important joints, cartilage cushions the end of the bones and a synovial membrane releases a fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. Meanwhile, ligaments connect the bones, acting as shock absorbers and helping to stabilise the joint.
When we’re young, healthy joints are cushioned with plenty of cartilage and synovial fluid, and our ligaments are wonderfully flexible.
That means that children will generally find it much easier than their parents to run around, do cartwheels and spring up from chairs without saying ‘Oof!’
Age and your joints
As we get older, time can start to take a toll on our joints. This usually happens because:
- We produce less synovial fluid as we age. And when we have less synovial fluid sloshing around in our joints, there’s less lubrication and our joints move less freely.
- The cartilage that cushions the end of our bones inside the joints starts to become thinner. As a result, our joints can feel stiffer.
- The ligaments inside the joint that connect our bones together can become shorter and less flexible. This can also make our joints feel stiffer and less able to move freely.
The good news
Luckily, there are many ways that you can help improve your joint health – whatever your age.
1. Eat healthily
A varied, healthy diet will help you keep your joints in better shape. Eat the rainbow – brightly coloured fruits and vegetables – to fill up on antioxidants. Kale, broccoli, cabbage and sprouts should be top of your shopping list, as research from the University of East Anglia has shown that they can help improve joint health.
Stop off at your fishmonger for oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. They all contain Omega 3, which supports good joint health. Other excellent sources of Omega 3 are nuts and seeds, including walnuts, pecan nuts, flax seeds and chia seeds.
2. Keep those joints moving
Exercise is a great way to help your joints stay flexible. As you move, you encourage the synovial membrane to produce synovial fluid, which helps to lubricate your joints. You’ll also be helping to build muscle that helps to stabilise your joints. Plus, you’ll be stimulating your cardiovascular system, which will pump nutrients and oxygen into your joints, helping them to stay healthy.
Try exercises that are kind on your joints, such as walking, spinning, rowing, swimming, aqua aerobics and elliptical exercise machines.
3. Take a joint supplement
You could also try a joint supplement like iMOVE. We developed iMOVE specially to support people who want to maintain healthy, flexible joints for an active lifestyle.
It’s packed full of ingredients that are proven to support healthy joints, such as ActivEase® Green Lipped Mussel. We use an extract of sustainably farmed mussels from the pure waters of New Zealand, as this provides a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids and Chondroitin to help soothe stiff joints.
Other vital ingredients include Glucosamine, which helps build cartilage within the joint, and Hyaluronic Acid, a major component of the synovial fluid which helps lubricate your joints.