Keeping your bones and joints healthy in cold weather
If you're one of the 54 million
First things first, keep moving. Your joints stay nourished by movement. Research has proven that 20 to 30 minutes of low impact aerobic exercise per day not only improves the health of your bones and joints, it's also great for your mental health. If the sidewalks are clear and you're not concerned about ice on the ground, get outside for a brisk walk. The fresh air will clear your mind, and your knees and hips will thank you. If you
surgeon at Blount Orthopaedic
prefer to stay inside, drive to the mall and walk several laps, or hop on a stationary bike at your neighborhood fitness center. While you're there, see if there's an indoor pool. Swimming or walking laps back and forth in the pool are great exercises that are gentle on your hips and knees.
Keep your weight down. Your hips and knees can experience three times your body weight with walking, and five to seven times your body weight with stairs. Any extra pounds can intensify your pain or discomfort. On the other hand, losing as little as 5 pounds could take 25 to 35 pounds off your joints and significantly improve pain.
At-home muscle therapy exercises are a great way to keep arthritis pain at bay. For knee pain, strengthen your quads - the muscles on the front of your thigh. Lie flat on your back and take whatever knee is hurting you, lengthen that leg out straight, lift as high as you can comfortably without bending the knee, then carefully and slowly lower it back to the floor. You will feel the quads burn. For hip pain, strengthen your abductors - the muscles on the outer edge of your hip and glutes. Laying down with your legs straight out in front of you, roll onto your side that isn't causing you pain, then - keeping your knee straight - lift your top leg up, holding it, then lower down again in a slow, controlled fashion.
Consider taking vitamin D supplements or increasing your dairy intake. While this may not help with pain, it is a good measure to keep bones healthy and strong. Talk to your primary care physician to get a vitamin D level check and discuss correct dosing. This is especially important for white, elderly females who are most at risk for osteoporosis.
If none of the above help with your hip and knee pain, check in with your primary care physician, an orthopedist or a physical therapist who can best assess your individual needs.