As you age, the nutrient levels in your joints decrease.
The wear on your joints reduces your flexibility, causing stiffness and discomfort.
Inflammation can also attack your joints and lead to swelling and pain.
Proper nourishment to these joints is vital, especially as you get older, to help maintain healthy functioning joints.
But there’s a problem with that.
You see, there’s no blood supplying nutrition to the inside of your joints!
Let me explain a bit here.
Joint Nutrition & Lubrication
There are several types of joints in your body, and they each have an important role.
1. Synarthrosis (Immovable Joint)
These joints include the bones in your skull and your teeth.
2. Amphiarthrosis (Slightly Movable Joint)
These joints move only slightly like in your rib cage that allows you to breathe, and the cage expands with your lungs.
3. Diarthrosis (Freely Movable Joint)
|This class includes only the synovial joints that allow you a range of motion and flexibility, as you find in your knees, fingers, shoulders, and elbows.|
There are 6 types of synovial joints with different degrees of mobility.
Synovial joints allow bones to slide past each other (as in your knees) or to rotate around each other (as in your forearm).
And these are what give us the most grief.
Let’s use your knee as an example.
Between the 2 balls of the 2 long bones of your thigh and calf is an enclosed space (capsule) filled with synovial fluid, a thick gel-like substance surrounded by a membrane.
This fluid provides the cushion between the bones.
This synovial (suh·no·vee·uhl) membrane has tiny finger-like projections that reach into the fluid to form pads called Menisci (Meniscus).ii
The Meniscus helps prevent this fluid from moving too quickly and losing its thick syrupy consistency.
A layer of cartilage and ligaments cover the balls of the bones, and the synovial fluid flows between the two.
This thin cartilage is called hyaline and is highly elastic. (Articular cartilage is a type of hyaline cartilage.)iii
Hyaline can quickly compress during stress and return to its original shape when the pressure is released.
The synovial fluid also provides elasticity and forms a cushion between the two bones.
The synovial fluid is not only vital for flexibility and load-bearing, it’s also the primary source of nourishment for the joint!
The synovial membrane is the only part of this inner joint that receives nourishment through your blood supply.
And it’s this synovial membrane lining the joint cavity that generates and maintains this supporting cushion.
This synovial membrane also:
- “Eats” foreign material, like a janitor for your joints
- Secretes hyaluronic acid – the main component of synovial fluid
- Prevents the fluid from hardening and retain its flexibility and viscosity
- Slows synovial fluid motion to help maintain its syrupy trait
- Provides support for load-bearing and shock from jumping and running
Hyaluronic acid is one of the main constituents of synovial fluid and the foundation of elasticity in your joint.
The synovial fluid in your knees, spine, hips, neck, fingers, wrists, and elbows:
- Increase joint flexibility
- Absorb the shock from load-bearing and running or jumping
- Support the spinal column structure
- Aid flexible movement with little swinging upward and outward motion
Spinal disks between the vertebrae in your back and neck:
- Supports the weight of your head and trunk of your body
- Stretches when your bones spin, swing, and rotate
Other Joint Supporting Features
Many nerve fibers branch like roots throughout the joint and surrounding muscles to help with mobility and sensation.
A rich network of arteries and veins supply nourishment to the surface of your joint and surrounding tissue.
A well-developed network of lymphatic vessels filters out waste products from the joint.
3 Reasons Joints Can Become Problematic
- The lack of blood supply to the inner joints means that injuries heal slowly.
- Joints prefer glucose over protein but not fat as a source of energy nutrition.
- Sulfur enters the joint through the blood to form chondroitin sulfate and kerato-sulfate, which aid in cartilage formation.
Chondroitin sulfate is a form of hyaluronic acid and sulfate – the main constituent of synovial fluid.
By the time you’ve reached your 20s, chondroitin levels drop, and kerato-sulfate rises, making it challenging to support your synovial fluid levels.
How to Stay Flexible As You Age
1. Keep Movin’ and Groovin’ – Many people with joint pain resist moving. But moving helps relieve stiffness in your joints, reduces pain, and strengthens the muscles that support them. Try getting up to move around at least once or twice an hour, especially if you’re sitting all day. Maybe a cha-cha-cha or boogie-woogie?
2. Ditch the High Heels – Experts agree that a 3-inch heel stresses your foot seven times more than a 1-inch heel. Heels add extra stress on your knees and may increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Losing the heels will make your back and knees love you!
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight – Excess weight adds stress to your joints, especially on the load-bearing hips, knees, ankles, and back. Studies show that weight loss significantly reduces knee pain, improves function, and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Research shows that losing as little as 11 pounds can cut your risk for knee osteoarthritis by 50%. Maintaining a healthy weight not only helps you look fabulous darling; it helps you feel good too!iv v
4. Low-Impact Exercises – We all know how vital regular exercise is to your health. Swimming and aquatic activities are excellent options for aerobics with resistance, and the buoyancy minimizes the stress on your joints. There’s also stretching, walking, Tai Chi, and yoga, to help keep you in top form! And don’t forget to warm up first.
5. Strengthen Muscles – As you get older, it’s harder to keep your muscles toned. Low impact strength exercises like pushing against the wall, or squeezing a ball help you retain those muscles. Starting a weight training program with a trainer is an excellent way to keep you strong as you age.
6. Range-of-Motion Exercises – Regular slow movements of your joints helps you preserve the range and flexibility. Make slow circles with your ankles and wrists, bend at the waist forward and sideways, and bend forward at the hips. For your knees, just “put your right foot in, take your right foot out, and shake it all about” in the hokey pokey! (Slowly.)
7. Avoid Inflammatory Foods – Eliminate sugar and junk foods! These foods can trigger inflammatory cytokines that attack your joints (and the rest of your body), causing swelling, stiffness, and pain. Research shows that romaine and Bibb lettuces, broccoli, spinach, kale, and parsley slows cartilage destruction and can reduce age-related bone loss. Following a Mediterranean diet plan is a fabulous start!vi
8. Kick Butt – Most people are unaware that smoking increases your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Smoking also increases your chance of injuries involving bursitis or tendonitis. Smokers also have a higher risk of low back pain and rheumatoid arthritis. Do your joints (and your body) a favor and stop smoking.vii
9. Listen To Your Body’s Warning Messages:
- Pay attention to pain signals
- Avoid activities that stress joints or increase pain
- Balance activity and rest; don’t overdo activities
- Check out available assistive devices or mobility aids
- Check out the link for a brochure on proper body mechanics like lifting heavy objects, reaching for something from the top shelf, or even getting out of bed
10. Nourish With Healing Nutrients:viii ix
- Vitamin D – This sunshine vitamin helps reduce inflammation and joint pain.vii
- Vitamin K – Proteins in joint cartilage and bone are dependent on Vitamin K. It also helps build healthy bones.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is vital for your body to repair damaged tissues in your joints.
- Vitamin E – This helps relieve joint pain and fight oxidative stress and inflammation.viii
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin – These protect the cellular structure of joint cartilage matrix. Their anti-inflammatory effects slow deterioration and reduce pain.ix (You can also substitute Chondroitin with Hyaluronic Acid.)
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Reduces morning stiffness, tender swollen joints, and eases pain.xiii
- Turmeric – This powerful anti-inflammatory helps reduce joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.xiv Turmeric is not easily absorbed so make sure you add Piperine. Piperine is a component of black pepper and boosts the absorption of Turmeric by 2000%. It also helps ease joint pain.xv
- Resveratrol – A potent antioxidant that combats free radical damage, and reduces inflammation and stiffness.xvi
- Boswellia Serrata – Considerably improves knee-joint functions, reduces pain, and can start working in as little as one week.xvii
- Type II Collagen – Research shows significant improvement to joint pain, walking function, and mobility.xviii
- Hyaluronic Acid – It’s not just for beautiful skin. HA is a main component of the synovial fluid that cushions your joint. It helps reduce inflammation and pain and supports healthy joints.xix
Check out this brochure on proper body mechanics!
|Interesting Health Fact: Did you know…?|
There are 360 joints in the human body.xx
Have you ever wondered what that cracking sound is when you crack your knuckles?
- DeRogatis M, Anis HK, Sodhi N, et al. Non-operative treatment options for knee osteoarthritis. Ann Transl Med. 2019;7(Suppl 7):S245. doi:10.21037/atm.2019.06.68
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Smoking and musculoskeletal health. 2019.