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Upward mobility

Mar 18, 2015 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

For some people, knees and hips are like the rings on a tree—they can accurately tell us how old we are. The years of walking, climbing, running, kneeling, dancing, playing sport—in other words, living—can take a toll on the body’s two largest joints. But taking care of your hips and knees, and managing any pain that arises, will help you avoid losing mobility as you age.

Here’s a helpful mnemonic, R.I.C.E.*, for dealing with pains and strains.

Rest. Don’t completely limit your activity—that can make injuries worse. Instead, avoid the type of motion that directly led to the injury, and try activities that keep pressure off the joint. (See list below.)

Ice. A homemade or store-bought ice pack applied to the injured area can reduce pain and swelling. Use it for 20 minutes at a time, with 20-minute pauses in between. Make sure a layer of cloth or other material is between the ice and your skin to protect you from frostbite.

Compression. A neoprene support or elastic bandage can promote recovery and reduce swelling. Make sure the wrap isn’t so tight that the skin becomes cool or blue.

Elevation. Raising an injured leg on a pillow or stool can also reduce swelling by preventing blood from pooling at the injured site.

It’s important to keep joints moving, even when you’re dealing with pain from arthritis or an overuse injury. These joint-friendly options can help keep you active:

∙ Elliptical trainer
∙ Stationary bike (recumbent or upright)
∙ Tai Chi
∙ Swimming, water aerobics, water walking
∙ Rowing machine
∙ Short walks throughout the day, instead of a long walk

* From Mobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

--Sarah Hagerty
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