Arthritis can happen to anyone, but athletes are more likely to develop the ailment later on in their lives than the average person. According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine around 30 percent of men who played high contact sports developed arthritis in their hip or knee, as opposed to only 19 percent of men who did not. Likewise, female athletes have a higher than average percentage of the ailment, especially after an injury such as a torn ACL. But there are some steps athletes can take to minimize the risk of arthritis and keep their bodies moving freely throughout their lives.
One easy step to help maintain joint health is to stretch properly before undertaking any training regiment or competing. In addition to preventing muscles tears it can also help prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the cartilage cushioning the joints. Keeping one's muscles limber can prevent them from becoming over-tired during the course of a workout, and thereby prevent over-extending the joints, or injuring them in any other similar way.
After the workout is over there are still steps one can take to fend off cartilage damage and maintain healthy joints. Stretching lightly after a workout can be just as important as stretching before. Also, icing down any stressed muscles and joints can prevent inflammation, which can be vital to preventing long-term damage to muscles and joints. Persistent inflammation can put harmful pressure on the cartilage and ligaments and hasten the onset of arthritis.
Another preventive measure is proper nutrition. The human body can only rebuild itself using the materials it is given. Improper nutrition will without a doubt be reflected in the long-term skeletal and muscle development of the body. A poor diet can result in the cartilage that shields the joints being worn down more quickly than it would otherwise.
Among the best nutrients for preventing arthritis are omega 3 fatty acids, which have a natural anti-inflammatory effect on the body, and therefore reduce the stress on the joints that can result from the swelling often caused by physical strain. Likewise, olive oil can have similar results. Foods rich in antioxidants are also important to protect the body from free radicals, particles that can cause inflammation. Vitamin C is a particularly important antioxidant for the prevention of arthritis, since it is the vitamin largely responsible for the health of collagen, a main component in cartilage. A nutritionist will be able to provide a list of foods rich in these nutrients and others that can stave of joint ailments.
The key to joint health is prevention. The earlier an athlete takes preventive actions to prevent joint trouble the better an athlete's health will be in their later years. To ensure the longest career possible, and to avoid unnecessary pain throughout one's retirement years, it is important to take care of one's joints.