Walking Aids in Optimal Joint And Cartilage Health
Walking is the best thing you can do to reinforce optimal joint health and prevent cartilage breakdown over time.
Cartilage breakdown is often referred to as osteoarthritis and is often the direct result of a decrease in nutritious movement and load bearing exercise in one’s movement diet. To better understand how movements such as walking and exercise help your joints, we need explore the role of hyaline cartilage, the cartilage that covers your joints, a bit more in depth.
Derived from the Greek word “hyali,” which means “glass,” hyaline cartilage is smooth and shiny. It is the most common type of cartilage found in the joints of the human body. Its primary purpose is to reduce friction to allow bones to glide over each other and to absorb forces experienced with daily activities, athletics and walking.
Hyaline cartilage stores synovial fluid, a fluid that lubricates and circulates nutrients to the joint. When the joint is at rest, the synovial fluid is stored in the cartilage much like water is stored in a sponge. When the joints are moved and loaded, the synovial fluid is squeezed in and out of the cartilage, helping
to keep the joint lubricated and healthy and ensuring nutrients are well distributed. What this means is that our body needs frequent movement to ensure that nutrients are constantly being distributed and waste build up is being expelled from the cartilage. If this process stops the cartilage will slowly start to degrade. In effect exercise, walking, and joint loading is essential for lifelong joint and cartilage health, so be sure to do it often.
When starting a walking program to improve joint health start slowly. You might do five minutes a day the first week, and then increase your time or distance a few minutes the next week.
Try to build up over time to 30 minutes of deliberate walking per day while listening to your body as you progress.
If you find that pain is limiting your walking ability and progression into an exercise program you may benefit from a gait analysis to identify potential strengths and weaknesses in your body’s movement capabilities that could be holding you back from lifelong joint health.