Joints are the parts of our bodies that give us all the mobility we typically take for granted on a day to day basis. However, when they’re injured or not working correctly, we begin to take notice of them a lot more than when they’re healthy. The shoulders, spine, knees, and ankles are some of the most commonly injured joints—in fact, it’s estimated that up to 230 million people each year visit the doctor because of problems with them!
Our joints serve two main purposes—to support the weight of bodies and provide us with a large range of motion. While there are several different kinds of joints (ball & socket, hinge, and gliding joints), at their most basic they are two surfaces coming into contact with one another that allow you to move. There is also fluid within each joint in your body that lubricates its surfaces and reduces friction.
Taking Care of Your Joints
The best way to keep your joints healthy is to give them plenty of regular use. The fluid that lubricates the surfaces of your joints can only access them through a process known as imbibition. For imbibition to take place, your joints need movement, which is why staying active is so important to good joint health.
Diet is another important factor when it comes to the performance of your joints. Eating meals that are high in vitamins and nutrients helps provide your joints with the ability to endure the wear and tear of everyday use.
What Are the Causes of Joint Injuries?
The most common cause of joint injuries is an unusual amount of stress placed on them. These stress-related injuries are further broken down into two categories—traumatic stress and repetitive stress.
Traumatic stress injuries come from a one-time incident. These include things like sports injuries and car accidents. Repetitive stress injuries take place over a longer period of time. These stresses are not as powerful as traumatic stresses, but they build up cumulatively and can lead to major pain.
Exercises to Prevent Joint Injuries
Postural correction through specific exercises, stretches, activity modifications, and joint manipulation can reduce the mechanical load on joints.
A proper squatting technique is great for preventing injuries for a couple reasons. For one, it allows you to safely lift heavy objects without injuring your lower back or knees. Second, it develops your leg muscles, which can provide more safety to your joints in the future.
To squat correctly, make sure to engage your glutes and hamstrings, and push your knees out to create a stable base. This technique is known as “spreading the floor” and is great for protecting your ACL and lumbar spine by transferring most of the pressure from your joints to the muscles of your legs.