Most of us take our joints for granted – they’re there, so what about them, right? – until one fine day we have no choice but to start paying attention. But by then, it’s too late. If you have a parent or grandparent with joint problems, you’ll know that once those suckers start hurting, there’s no going back. Your every movement will become uncomfortable; bending, turning, lifting, sitting, standing and even lying down are all painful. So, while you still have the time, start taking these precautions to keep your joints healthy. You won’t regret it!

1. Avoid bending your knees past 90 degrees.
If you’re bending your knees for any reason, whether it is while doing yoga or lunges, or just to pick up something from the floor, make sure that your knee is directly above your ankle, and not in front of it. Allowing your knee to go further than your ankle strains the ligaments in your knees, whereas aligning your knee and ankle properly balances your leg, hip and spine. Your leg should form a perfect ‘L’ shape.

2. Keep your feet as flat as possible while stretching, to avoid twisting your knees.
This is simple body mechanics, whereby keeping your feet flat on the floor ensures that your weight is distributed properly and that your posture and alignment are correct. You will find it much harder to do the same exercise with your feet flat, but keep practicing and your range of motion will slowly improve.

3. When you jump, land with your knees bent.
When you hit the ground, there is a jarring impact on your bones, muscles and joints. In fact, research shows that the force of the jump may be five times your body weight! Bending your knees before you land can prevent your knees from getting injured because other parts of your legs, like your thighs and calves absorb some of the impact. To minimise the risk of injury as much as possible, lean forward and bend your knees as you land.

4. Warm up before any doing exercise or playing any sport.
Warming up gets your heart pumping and increases your blood circulation. This in turn prepares your muscles and joints for the activity you are about to do. If you exercise without warming up, your joints will still be stiff, making them more prone to injuries.

5. Cool down after vigorous sports.
There’s a reason why the treadmill forces you to cool down at the end of every session. This is because suddenly stopping your physical activity is extremely harmful for your health. Your blood circulation needs to slowly come back to normal, and your muscles and joints need to be able to begin the process of repairing themselves.

6. Wear properly fitted shoes that provide shock absorption and stability. 
Heels do a lot of damage to the muscles, joints and ligaments, in your feet, legs, hips and back. Even poorly fitted shoes that do not support your feet properly end up doing more harm than good.

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