Let’s be honest, most of us don’t really think about looking after our joints until we end up with an injury.

I’ll openly admit that I only started caring about my joints after I dislocated my knee many years ago and had to spend over a year having physio. I guess it all comes down to that old truth of not appreciating something until it’s gone, eh?

Seriously though, it’s actually crazy that we don’t focus on our joints. We all know how important it is to keep our hearts and lungs healthy, as well as doing our best to make nutritious choices with food, etc. So why do so many of us wait until something goes wrong with our joints before we actually give a hairy rat’s ass about them?

I mean, if you’ve ever injured your shoulders, back, knees or hips you will know how big an impact it has on everyday life.

So what can you do to start looking after your joints?

1. Strengthen the muscles around your joints

Strong muscles support your joints so they don’t have to do all the work. This can help to prevent future joint damage. In some circumstances, it can even help to reduce existing joint pain. The best way to strengthen your muscles is with resistance training (otherwise known as weight training).

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, one of the main things I did in my physio sessions after my knee dislocation years ago was a variety of exercises to build strength in my quads (the muscles on the front of the leg above the knee) because the quads can help take some stress off the knee joint.

If you’re not sure where to start then my advice is to speak with a qualified and experienced personal trainer or physiotherapist. Although strength training can help joints, if it’s done incorrectly you could actually cause more damage. So make sure you get professional advice.

2. Perfect your posture and strengthen your core

I’m guessing you just sat bolt upright after reading that, right? I just assessed how I’m sitting at my desk while typing too.

Come on though, I couldn’t talk about strengthening your muscles without mentioning the importance of core strength and posture. How many times have you heard that slouching is bad for your back? Or that you should bend at the knees when lifting something? It’s all to do with your posture and joint health.

Tips for looking after your joints

Visualise your spine for a moment, thinking about how it looks when you’re sitting upright and then how different it looks when you’re hunched over a desk. There’s clearly more strain being put on the spine when it’s in that scrunched up position, so do your best to maintain good posture.

Make sure your workouts include exercises to strengthen your whole core, which includes all of your abdominal muscles, back muscles and pelvic floor – not just the six-pack muscles you see on Instagram. There’s much more to your abs than just how they look.

3. Keep active

Now don’t take this point too literally, you obviously don’t need to keep moving all day every day. But research has found that pain and stiffness in the joints can get worse if you’re an inactive person because joints are meant to move so they remain supple.

Be aware though that doing an excessive amount of high impact exercises can put a lot of stress on your joints. So if you want to make a positive change towards looking after your joints then swimming is a safer option than something like running.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m by no means saying running is bad. I’m just saying that if you have joint problems then swimming might be a better option for you because the water supports your weight, so there’s less strain on your joints.

Exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight too. Now you guys know I don’t agree with weighing yourself as a way to track progress, but in this situation I’ll make an exception as keeping your weight within a healthy range can make a difference to your joint health.

If you maintain a healthy weight then your knees and hips won’t be put under too much stress from your own bodyweight. So there are plenty of reasons to stay active!

4. Eat a healthy diet

You might be wondering how the food you eat can possibly have any impact on looking after your joints. Well, a healthy diet helps to build strong bones and muscles, so do your best to eat mostly nutritious foods.

If you have a healthy diet (and an active lifestyle) then you’re already providing your body with plenty of goodness. But as most of us don’t manage to get all of the nutrients we need every day it’s worth taking a supplement to boost your nutrient intake.

I was recently contacted by LithoLexal, who asked if I fancied trying their Advanced Joint Health supplements, which contain the Healthy Ageing Award Ingredient of the Year (2016).

To be honest with you, I’d never actually heard of this ingredient. But after some research, I realised it supports the natural collagen formation and development of cartilage! Basically, it’s a marine extract that helps your body to develop the stuff that connects the bones in a joint – cartilage. So this supplement is pretty damn cool!

Top tips for looking after your joints

The Advanced Joint Health supplements contain LithoLexal (the badass marine extract I’ve just mentioned), Vercilexal (which is another fish cartilage ‘core protein’), magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, calcium and vitamin D (which helps your body to absorb the calcium). It’s a great little supplement that provides your body with so much more than just calcium on its own.

Oh, and if you’re on a budget then it’s worth noting that you can get 20% off your first order if you sign up to their newsletter. So you can start looking after your joints without breaking the bank.

5. Be sensible regarding your joints

If you grew up in the nineties (like me) then you’ll remember how totally uncool it was to wear your backpack on both shoulders. I mean, the only possible exception to this fashion rule was if you let both straps out as loose as they would go. What were we thinking!?

But then again, we did think blue mascara looked amazing. So it possibly wasn’t the best time for fashion advice.

Anyway, one of the main factors when looking after your joints is to be sensible when it comes to simple everyday things. When you’re wearing a backpack put it on both shoulders so you spread the weight evenly rather than having it lopsided. Also, think about the shoes you wear on a daily basis. Are they practical? Oh dear God, I sound like my mum from back when I was a teenager! It’s happening, I’m becoming my mum. Send help!

Seriously though, if you’re wearing crazy high heels all the time then you’re going to be putting your joints through a lot of stress, and that’s before you even think about the foot pain. I like high heels for nights out, but most days I wear supportive trainers.

Even just making a few small tweaks can make a big difference with your joint health. Don’t wait until you start experiencing joint problems – be proactive and start looking after your joints now. Prevention really is so much better than cure!

Top tips for looking after your joints Happy Healthy Nat

This post was sponsored by LithoLexal, but the views are all my own.

Nat xx

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