By Richard Stoneking, PT
The shoulder is technically a non-weightbearing joint, and therefore less prone to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis or “wearing out” of the joint is a slow, progressive condition that advances with age and usually takes decades before becoming functionally disabling.
Range of motion is key for shoulder- as we age posture changes impact the shoulder joints. The forward head, round shouldered posture, commonly associated with sitting, causes adaptive shortening of the anterior tissues, and overstretching of the upper back and scapular muscles.
What to do?
- Scapular retraction stretch (hands clasped behind back)
- Corner stretch
- Neck and upper back stretch
- Standing rows with Theraband
- Overhead stretch with Theraband
Protect Your Shoulders:
- Avoid repetitive or sustained use of arms overhead
- No military or overhead press exercise
- Avoid sleeping with arms overhead by keeping them mostly below shoulder level
- Avoid placing your hands on top of the steering wheel for prolonged periods
Hips and Knees
The hip and knee are subject to 3-4 times an individual’s body weight during weight bearing activities such as walking and stair climbing.
Protect Your Hips And Knees:
- Diet modification and minimal weight bearing exercises (such as bicycling, swimming, and the Nustep recumbent machine), are effective options.
- A 20 pound weight loss, if justified, can reduce the level of stress and strain on the hips and knees by 60-80 pounds.
- Walking in a pool with chest high water level reduces bodyweight by 10%. How your weightbearing joints feel in water is how they will feel on land if you reduce your weight by 10%.
- Avoid twisting the knee. Move your feet.
- Avoid prolonged sitting with the knee bent excessively.
- Avoid unnecessary stair climbing.
- Wear comfortable and properly fitted shoes that do not have excessive wear and tear.
- Avoid excessive kneeling or pressure on your knees. Use kneepads or cushioning for prolonged kneeling tasks.
- Strengthen the muscles around the joints.
- Sit to Stand exercises without the use of arms is useful. For those with mid to end stage osteoarthritis, it is not a good idea to use the leg extension machine since the knee extension effort causes excessive friction within the joint, particularly under the kneecap.
- If these tidbits of information resonate with you do not hesitate to contact a physical therapist for further assistance. It could be the best decision you’ve ever made.