Muscles give you strength, but joints are what make everything work together. That’s why it’s just as important to pay attention to joint health as it is to exercise your muscles. Over time, your joints are subject to natural wear and tear, but you can speed of the process if you’re not aware of proper care.

Our bodies have a collection of three types of joints. Your hips have ball-and-socket joints. Your ankles have hinge joints. Your wrists have ellipsoid joints. Here’s how to keep these main types of joints in optimal condition.

Shoulders

Your shoulders have ball-and-socket joints, allowing them to have a 360-degree range of motion. That mobility comes at a cost, though. The joint has a shallow socket.

Simple exercises can help you keep these joints in good working order. While you’re standing, lift a light dumbbell (one or two pounds) out in front of you. Then rotate your arm, bringing your thumb down – as if you were pouring a beer. Do 10 to 15 reps with each arm. This exercise helps to strengthen your supraspinatus muscles.

Hips

These are ball-and-socket joints, too. But your hips have a deep socket to keep these joints extremely stable – which allows us to bear the body’s weight for walking.

Helping you manage balance and body weight puts a high stress on these joints. They can take it, but hip joints can wear out over time. Normal aging erodes the cartilage lining the hip’s ball and socket. This can lead to osteoarthritis and lots of pain.

Health professionals advise that you keep the muscles that support and stabilize your hips in top shape by doing lunges or plank exercises that strengthen your lower back, hip flexor, and gluteus muscles.

Ankles

These hinge joints need support the ligaments and tendons that extend all the way to your toes. Injuries often occur as sprains. One of the most common is accidentally rolling your foot while going down steps.

The best way to protect your ankle joints is to pay attention to your calf muscles. This muscle group acts like a stirrup to support your ankle. Calf raises are an excellent exercise to keep in shape.

Elbows

These are hinge joints that are held in place by ligaments that hold them tightly in place. It’s easy to damage this joint, simply by banging your elbow on a hard surface. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to wear elbow pads when participating in high-contact sports.

Wrists

These ellipsoid joints are an amazing collection of tendons, ligaments, and bones. The good news is that it’s not a weight-bearing joint, so we usually don’t experience problems. An injury, such as falling down on your outstretched hands, can change that.

This is why participants in sports like football, hockey, soccer, skiing, and even skateboarding wear wrist guards and learn to do the tuck-and-roll if they take a fall.

Knees

Knees are hinge joints where four main ligaments come together along with the femur, the tibia, and the patella (kneecap). These joints take a lot of impact action, and an over-extension can damage cartilage.

The best way to protect these joints is keep your leg muscles in shape to provide knee joint stability. Walking lunges are a good all-around exercise for this.

Feeling joint pain? Make an appointment with us. We’ll take a non-invasive approach to finding the cause, and providing treatment.