Simon Bandy: The importance of joint health

Nutritional expert Simon Bandy from Seaford based Health Plus gives some top tips to help improve joint health:

The AEGON International Tennis Tournament is currently in Eastbourne until June 22. The athletes competing need to be in top physical condition, including their joints and ligaments. Ability and fitness are useless if your joints aren’t healthy, and this isn’t just true for athletes, but for everyone.

But increasing age, injury, sitting the wrong way or carrying too much weight can wear and tear joints, which may lead to arthritis. There are over 100 forms of arthritis, and women are more likely to suffer from it.

Because it is paramount to look after our joints, I’ve put together some top tips on how to take care of them:

Exercise - The best way to care for joints is to keep them strong and stable, along with muscles, ligaments and bones. Some research suggests that aerobic exercise reduces joint swelling. A good way to strengthen joints is to partake in exercise to reduce pressure on them, such as swimming or cycling. Tennis is another fantastic low-impact activity, grass is a great surface to play on because it’s soft, forgiving, and reduces impact on joints.

Watch your weight - Keeping your weight within a healthy range is the best thing you can do for your joints. Joints such as your knees, hips, and back have to support your body weight and research has shown that with every pound gained, a person puts four times more stress on the knees.

Take a supplement: Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, and helps to maintain healthy cartilage. As we age, natural supplies deplete, so it can be helpful to take a glucosamine based supplement. Try Health Plus’s Glucosamine + MSM supplement (£9.95 for 60 tablets), which combines glucosamine and joint friendly MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).

Build muscles - Strong muscles support your joints. If you don’t have enough muscle, your joints take a hammering, especially those in your knees, which support your body weight. Weight training exercises can help build muscle and keep existing muscle and surrounding ligaments strong. One important thing to remember is that strengthening exercises should not place strain on the joint that you’re trying to strengthen. Once this muscle has been built up the likelihood of a twisting, tearing or strain injury is greatly reduced. For those of us for whom the thought of weight training sounds daunting, here is a simple exercise you can do to keep knee joints strong:

1.Sit in a firm, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms crossed or loose at your sides.

2.Slowly stand up, using deliberate, controlled movements, until you reach your full height.

3.Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly sit down again.

4.Repeat this exercise for about 1 minute.

Diet – to keep joints supple follow a healthy eating plan with a wide variety of foods fruit, vegetables, cereals and pulses, dairy products, eggs, fish, chicken and meat. Include at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna) for a rich source of omega 3s. Or, take an omega supplement to boost levels in your diet.

Simon Bandy is a natural supplements expert for Health Plus; a Seaford based business established over 20 years ago with a mission to promote optimum nutrition across the world. Family-owned and run since November 1991, the company supplies a wide range of British made, high quality nutritional supplements at www.healthplus.co.uk