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From Weak Knees to Power Walks: Stronger Joints for Seniors

senior on bike

Have your knees been feeling stiff or even burning lately? Or maybe it’s more of a struggle to lift your legs than usual. It doesn’t make sense; this isn’t supposed to happen. But this discomfort continues and soon transforms into actual pain. You’re almost limping through the daily walks that brought you so much joy. If this sounds familiar, you probably have weak knees and hips.

This doesn’t mean you’re losing your mobility. As you reach the golden age of seniors, your bone density and muscle strength decreases. With the lack of support, there’s a higher risk for falling and causing a fracture. If the injury is left unattended, you can get arthritis. But weak joints don’t have to be the stamp of old age. You can still maintain a healthy body to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Here are the top three ways to build stronger knees and hips.

CLEAN YOUR PLATE

plate of food art

Diet may seem like a strange starting point to fix weak knees and hips, but it’s an important first step. Eating the wrong foods can cause inflammation in the body, thus weakening your joints. To avoid this, you should limit intake on foods such as sugar, alcohol, and processed meats. Instead, replace them with foods rich in calcium and vitamin D that slow down bone density loss. Take this opportunity to relieve joint pain through nutritious recipes with milk, yogurt, spinach, and sweet potatoes (like our Spinach and Feta Frittata recipe).

Adding supplements to your diet can also improve your joints, but proceed with caution. They claim to specialize in joint improvement, but these vitamins may only work short-term or have dangerous side effects. Always consult with your physician before incorporating health supplements into your diet. Even then, supplements aren’t as effective as nutritious foods.  Treat your supplements as the sidekick to saving weak knees and hips, not the hero. Diet still reigns supreme for a healthy body.

MOVE YOUR BODY

happy couple walking

Staying active is another way to strengthen your joints. A sedentary lifestyle – especially as a senior—can weaken your knees and hips due to the lack of activity. Daily exercise is an ideal way to upgrade your health beyond your knees and hips. With fitness, you get the extra benefit of weight loss to relieve joint pain. On your body, each pound exerts five pounds of force on your body. The less you weigh, the gentler it is on your hips and knees.

To get started, try exploring low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, and Pilates. These workouts are gentle enough to get you fit without stressing your joints. You can even take this time to play with your grandchildren at the park. Avoid high-impact workouts (CrossFit, basketball, kickboxing, etc.), as they have a higher risk for injuries. If you want to work out at home, YouTube is a fantastic tool. There are several YouTube exercise tutorials specifically for strengthening knees and hips. Start slow; with time and discipline, these workouts can erase joint pain. Whether you’re on an outdoor adventure or inside your living room, dedicating time to move around will lead to a stronger body.

TAKE IT EASY

couple sitting on a bench

Although exercise is important for strength, you should also know when to take it easy. You may have to make small changes in your life for your overall health. After a workout, stretch to prevent injury and decrease soreness in your joints. Your hips may be in a delicate state, so try not to over-rotate them during both exercises and stretches. Stretches should relieve the body, not torment. If you use the stairs at work, give yourself a break and use an available elevator half the week. Stairs make a great daily workout, but climbing too many flights can stress your knees. Overworking the body will do more harm than good, so allow yourself to relax.

Recovering also means wearing the right footwear. Switch out your high heels, which adds more stress to your knees, for flat shoes. Look for shoes with neutral cushioning, which provide more stability and support for walking. If your knees still hurt from standing up, don't be afraid to consider aids like a knee strap or cane. They provide extra alignment and stability while you practice regaining your strength. 

YOU'RE STILL STRONG

girl jumping sunset

Bad joints aren’t the end of the world. You may not be a teenager, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for discomfort. Similarly, you shouldn’t feel ashamed for having weak knees and hips. Remind yourself that you did nothing wrong; this is a small setback to the best years of your life. Think of this opportunity as a reminder to focus and care for your body first. It takes time to strengthen your joints, but the right steps can take away stress from both your body and mind. 

Comments

Joanne La 11:31 AM on September 23, 2016
I'm going to have to start watching I eat more often.. :)
Beatrice Kennedy 4:12 PM on September 23, 2016
my joints are feeling so stiff lately. hopefully some of these things will help me out
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