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Continued: Want to avoid surgery? Take care of your joints

  • Article by: LESLIE BARKER , Dallas Morning News
  • Last update: November 30, 2013 - 5:02 PM

That’s important because cartilage doesn’t have a blood supply. Instead, it depends on the fluid to provide nutrients.

Proper exercise technique is essential for healthy joints, successful workouts and weight loss, says McLean of the YMCA.

Poor posture causes many of the joint issues he sees.

“People are hunched over,” he says. “Shoulder problems usually stem from posture issues and incorrect weightlifting technique. When you have a hunched back and your upper body isn’t underneath your hips, chronic conditions start to happen. It won’t hurt today or tomorrow, but somewhere down the track it will.”

What about running?

Running isn’t inherently bad for joints. A recent study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that running “significantly reduced” the incidence of osteoarthritis and risk of hip replacements. One reason seems to be that runners have a lower body mass index.

In general, though, Haslam cautions that running and other higher-impact sports such as basketball and tennis are better started when a person is young. As you age and lose bone mass, your body calls upon the bone mass you’ve already banked, he says. Starting it later can cause more pain.

“My rule of thumb is that if you’re not having pain, go ahead,” Haslam says. “But if you start to develop arthritis and have pain every time you’re 300 yards out and it gets worse, you may want to switch exercise.”

He and McLean emphasize low-impact workouts such as specific classes, the elliptical trainer, a recumbent bicycle, walking and swimming — anything that maintains cardiovascular benefits without loading the joints.

“If you can only walk five minutes a day, walk five minutes a day,” McLean says.

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