How much does weight really impact my joint health?


If you have the occasional twinge of pain in your knees, hips or even your back, it is your body’s way of warning you of a potential problem. Pain is your body’s way to tell you that something is wrong and you need to do something about it. Similar to an engine light coming on in your car, pain is indicating a possible problem. Now, what is the cause? There are multiple reasons why your body sends off pain signals. First, if you injure tissue your brain tells you that you are in pain. If you have bad posture, eventually you will feel pain. Our joints are designed to take a lot of pressure during different activities. But when that pressure is increased just the slightest it can cause an enormous chain reaction and your function can be lost. So how does increased body weight really impact our joints health?

Studies have shown that for every pound of excess weight exerts 4 pounds of pressure on your joints, your knees in particular. Let’s just think about that for a minute…if you are 10 pounds overweight you have 40 pounds of extra pressure on your knees. If you are 100 pounds overweight now you have 400 pounds of pressure on your knees!!! That’s a crazy statistic! Now, walking on a level surface puts a force equivalent to 1 ½ times your body weight normally with everyone. So if you weigh 200 pounds you are putting 300 pounds of pressure on your knees. If you add an incline, the pressure goes up. Going up and down a step increases this pressure 2 to 3 times. And squatting, a very functional activity that we all do on a day to day basis, can add up to 5 times your body weight of pressure. This is why it is so important to know what we are doing to our bodies and the affect a few extra pounds can have.  

What does this mean? Well, with increased pressure on joints this can lead to joint break down, in turn causing osteoarthritis. Obesity and being overweight is one of the leading risk factors of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused from wear and tear of joints. Once the cartilage is worn away this causes a bone on bone atmosphere which causes inflammation in the joint. Increased weight causes this breakdown to occur quicker than normal. And, pain levels can be even worse with those that already have osteoarthritis. Now you have an inflamed joint that is bearing 3-5 times the amount of pressure that it should.  

What can be done to avoid this? The simple answer is to lose some weight. Most people can afford to lose a few extra pounds. It’s easier said than done, I know. It all comes down to 2 questions. Is it important to you? And what are my goals? You really have to decide what is important to you. If not having pain is important to you, then this should be a priority. If being able to do any activity you want without pain, then this should be a priority. What are your goals? I would suggest setting small goals at first so that they can be easily reached. Seek out another partner to hold you accountable during your journey. In the long run it’s a life style change and it needs to be done in steps. Nobody ever said that getting to a healthy lifestyle is easy, but once you get there it is very easy to maintain that environment.  
So to sum it up, weight has a huge impact on your joint health. Your joints already have a great deal of pressure put on them when doing a specific activity. Adding any additional weight, just increases that pressure even more. This, in turn, can cause other issues such as osteoarthritis. Having a healthier lifestyle can and will prevent such things from happening and should be a priority.  

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