Improving Joint Health to Combat Aging

All day long, all I hear is “Don’t get old!” Unfortunately, we can’t change the number of candles on our cake, but we can change how are body feels as we age. As we get older, it is normal to have wear and tear, but not doing the things we love to do isn’t part of the norm. In this article, we will cover:

  1. What is wear and tear?
  2. One common reason for arthritis
  3. One exercise to improve your daily activities

The wear and tear process contribute to degenerative changes in our joints, known as osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis is a process which wears away the cartilage (or cushion) of a joint. The thinning of this “cushion” exposes bone, which is why you’ve likely heard someone say that their knee is “bone on bone.”

The wearing of our joints is often thought of as an inevitable aging process; however, if age is to blame wouldn’t everyone have arthritis? Why is arthritis worse in certain joints compared to others? How are individuals in their 70’s or older not experiencing arthritis in their joints, while some in their 30’s and 40’s is?

While OA can affect any joint in the body, the knee, hip, and lower back are the most commonly targeted. In fact, knee OA affects nearly one in two women and one in three men (1).

Muscles and Bones:

Tight or weak muscles will cause your joint to deviate from ideal movement patterns. These deviations cause extra stress and may speed degenerative changes. Surprisingly, the gluteal (buttock) muscles provide major support for the knee, low back, and hip.

A study by Hinman et al. found that people who suffer from knee OA demonstrated significant unilateral gluteal muscle weakness (4). Weakness in those outer hip muscles will impair the hips, knees, and your low back’s ability to react to force, potentially leading to injury or worsening OA. The hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles also provide support around these joints.

Check out this exercise below where we show an exercise to start to strengthen your gluteal muscles!

Want to learn more ways to protect your joints?

Sign up for the 2021 YMCA Wellness Series and make 2021 your year you feel better, get stronger, and improve your life.

Registration is free, and all classes are held online with leading healthcare professionals in Western New York.

Dillon, Charles F., et al. “Prevalence of knee osteoarthritis in the United States: arthritis data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1991-94.” The Journal of rheumatology 33.11 (2006): 2271-2279.

Bhatia, Dinesh, Tatiana Bejarano, and Mario Novo. “Current interventions in the management of knee osteoarthritis.” Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences 5.1 (2013): 30.

Barenius, Björn, et al. “Increased risk of osteoarthritis after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction a 14-year follow-up study of a randomized controlled trial.” The American journal of sports medicine 42.5 (2014): 1049-1057.

Hinman, Rana S., et al. “Hip muscle weakness in individuals with medial knee osteoarthritis.” Arthritis care & research 62.8 (2010): 1190-1193. 



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