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Preventing joint problems later in life - is it possible?

(11 Posts)
onesparesecond Mon 25-Apr-16 07:54:53

My family have all enjoyed a generally good health until a ripe old age but one thing that the female line suffer from is poor joints - knees specifically and sometimes shoulders. DM is now awaiting a knee op in her early 60s. Her DM also had one at around the same age.

I am early 30s and have 2 small children. I want to be fit and healthy for as long as possible for them and for me.

The main difference between DM and I is that I am not overweight, and I will try and keep it that way as I get older, although I don't think that alone will save my joints. I suspect that exercise is key. However having small children and working makes getting to classes/gym difficult (but not impossible if I found the right one at the right time). It doesn't help that I come from an inactive home so the motivation to exercise hasn't been there until now, but DH is very active so together with him I could set a good example for our children.

So, my question is, what would be the best thing I could do for my joints as a preventative measure?

MrsMook Mon 25-Apr-16 18:43:27

Weight bearing exercise is good for bone density, and stronger muscles help reduce strain on the joints. Staying a healthy weight also means less pressure on joints.

I found my knees were much happier after I started using insoles to support the arches in my feet.

onesparesecond Mon 25-Apr-16 19:37:25

Thanks MrsMook. I think I may start with more walking and then maybe join some sort of class when DCs are a little bit older. I had a chat to DH about my concerns earlier who reassured me that our lifestyle is healthier than my DM and her DM but that he will help me with my fitness.

KeyserSophie Tue 26-Apr-16 06:50:48

I know this doesn't help you at the moment, but by the time you're my age, your kids will be older and you can get to the gym so I'll tell you anyway.

I am a keen trail runner and I also do a lot of heavy lifting (olympic lifting plus free weights, body weight stuff like pull ups, v-bar dips etc). I have been "on and off" active all my life but in the last 3 years (I'm in my early forties now) I have applied myself more consistently.

My injury rate compared to the average trail runner is low (the only injuries I've had in 3 years have been trauma related- i.e. falls, sprains). I also have bones like moon rock (top 1% of age category population for bone density). That might be coincidence, and of course, the plural of anecdote is not data, but I do think the lifting definitely helps offset the impact of high mileage and ageing. I also do a lot of mobility work (yoga and rolling/ stretching) to prevent over tight muscles putting strain on connective tissue, although this is still a work in progress- I totally fail the "sit down stand up" test due to poor ankle and calf mobility.

All that said, I have no idea how I'll feel by 60. Joint problems can be because of a range of things- being overweight puts strain on your joints, but so do a lot of sports- tennis, golf etc. My dad was a pro footballer- has had cartilage in both knees replaced, probably due to the impact of repeated tackling. Mum was a very keen tennis and golf player (one or the other every day for years)- now retired due to shoulder and elbow problems. That said, they both remain very fit and active- do a lot of cycling and walking in their seventies. Running is notorious for causing joint problems, especially in previously inactive people who get the bug and build up mileage very quickly. Some people are also able to cope with repetitive use more than others- there's a genetic element to it. Good joints in old age seems to be a combination of good luck, good weight management, and some physical activity (but not too much).

GlitteryShoes Tue 26-Apr-16 09:32:54

Hi, I tore a ligament in my knee a few years ago and during the MRI scan they found I had severe arthritis in my knee, and were amazed I had no related pain. I was overweight, but I walk on average 12k steps a day. I lost weight and started cycling on advice from physio and I remain pain free and feel strong. So I think even if you are prone to joint issues, it can be helped and doesn't have to get worse.

MrsMook Tue 26-Apr-16 18:32:38

My joints loathed pregnancy- I started going to an osteopath 3 months post natal as I still found it too painful to walk up hill from the local shops. As I recovered, the osteopath hypothesised that with my personal and family history, I am likely to be susceptible to arthritis, however the mix of activity I do should help reduce that to a normal level of risk.
The jury will be out on that one for a few more decades.
I've had no running injuries so far and put that down to recovery time and mixing my exercise up so not overloading any one area. Given the grief that my knees and hips gave me half a lifetime ago, I'm pretty impressed!

onesparesecond Tue 26-Apr-16 19:18:51

Thanks very much for all your helpful tips. I have no idea just how active I am so a pedometer is on its way to see just how much work there is to do!

whattodoforthebest2 Tue 26-Apr-16 19:34:07

Can I suggest that cycling is a great family activity - you can start your DC young and make a point of finding good places to cycle together. Later on your DC might be keen on BMX or MTB and you can still get out cycling with your DH.

tomatoplantproject Tue 26-Apr-16 19:37:51

Yoga? I really struggled with various niggles during and after pregnancy and one year on from going 2-3 times a week am pain free. Its really good for strength and flexibility. My clicky knees don't click any longer and my achey back doesn't hurt.

onesparesecond Tue 26-Apr-16 19:47:54

That's a great idea whattodo - DS pedalled for the first time on Saturday and we have plenty of local cycle tracks. We also have a yoga place nearby tomatoplant so that's a great idea also.

whattodoforthebest2 Tue 26-Apr-16 19:49:58

And bikes make great Xmas/Birthday presents!grin

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