Look After your Bones, Muscles and Joints
What are we talking about?
The joints are the connections between bones and the muscles move the joints. The three are closely connected and changes in one affects the others so both need to be considered together
What are the effects of ageing?
The effects of ageing are to reduce some of the elasticity of the tissue that surrounds the joints, including the ligaments which are strong bands that link the bones together, and the tendons which link the muscles to the bone near the joint Get a raw leg of lamb in your hands and have a good look at it and get a feel of such tissues.
What happens round the joints is that a tissue called elastin reduces leaving the white collagen fibres that are less elastic as being the dominant tissue thus reducing suppleness.
The effect of ageing on the muscles are to reduce muscle mass and this is an effect of normal ageing. There is much debate about the impact of declining testosterone levels in men and in the United States there is a huge industry focused on “Low-T’ but there seems no evidence to recommend that men should routinely be prescribed testosterone and nor should they be advised to buy it off the web, or to recommend that women slip it into the tea of their nearest and dearest. It is clear also that most of what we think of as the effects of ageing are due to the effects of inactivity and loss of fitness, as can be seen by looking at people who have kept up the types of activity that maintain and increase muscle strength to compensate for the years and decades of sitting.
How can you minimise the effects of ageing and live longer better?
There are four aspects of fitness – strength, stamina, suppleness and skill and all of these are relevant
The joints can be exercised to increase suppleness or at least to maintain suppleness but it is clear that suppleness, for example through yoga or tai chi, can be increased in people in their seventies, eighties and nineties. The skills developed are also very useful in keeping the brain in good training.Similarly the key issue is not to worry about muscle ageing or the much publicised Low-T problem but to increase strength training.
For people with heart and lung problems training is also useful because one of the benefits of training is that stamina is increased because the muscles become more efficient at extracting oxygen from the blood stream
What can you do to reduce the risk of disease?
The main thing you can do to reduce the risk of disease of the joints is to keep your weight down because being overweight or obese puts a strain on the joints and increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
How can you maintain and increase fitness?
Look at our strength and training programmes
HOW COULD YOU USE THIS KNOWLEDGE TO ACHIEVE YOUR OWN OBJECTIVES ?
- For increased suppleness speak to friends about finding a good teacher and class for yoga, tai chi or the Alexander technique, or keep going with swimming and dancing, or all of these activities
- If you have a long term problem such as arthritis or Parkinson's Disease ensure you get the advice of a physiotherapist
- For strength there is much that can be done in the home with five kilogram weights or three kilogram weights to start off with if the person has not done much for the previous two or three decades, but it is good to find a trainer and start a programme of improving strength. Try virtual reality cycling or walking
HOW COULD YOU USE THIS KNOWLEDGE IF YOU ARE SUPPORTING SOMEONE ELSE ?
- Ideal Christmas presents include resistance bands and weights.
- Find a sympathetic but tough trainer and arrange monthly visits if the person can't get to a gym or wellness centre
- If they have a long term problem such as arthritis or Parkinson's Disease ensure you get the advice of a physiotherapist
- Help the person develop a ten minute daily programme, with music