Why Today’s Joints Ache More Than Ever: 3 Surprising Reasons Revealed [SLIDESHOW]

Scientists believe there are three main factors at play when it comes to arthritis risk in modern times, compared to our grandparents’ generation. Let’s dive in and find out what’s causing this discrepancy and what we can do to minimize our risk for arthritis.

More sedentary lifestyles

Although our grandparents may not have had access to gyms, yoga classes, or wearable fitness technology, they were generally more active than we are today. The combination of more manual labor jobs and fewer conveniences in-society contributed to a more physically active lifestyle. In contrast, modern-day individuals tend to have desk-based jobs that require them to sit for long hours in front of computers and engage in less manual tasks.

Remaining sedentary for extended periods puts strain on our joints and can lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Worse still, after a long day at the office, most of us reach for the TV remote, rather than going for a walk or engaging in other forms of physical activity. The lack of daily movement can take a toll on our joints.

Takeaway: To combat the effect of sitting, it’s important to find ways to incorporate more movement into our everyday routines. This might consist of regular walks during lunch breaks, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or scheduling exercise sessions in the morning or evening.

Shift in diet

Our grandparents’ generation generally consumed more natural, unprocessed foods. The adoption of modern farming methods and the growth of food manufacturing have led to the creation of many highly processed, high-fat, and high-sugar products. These form a significant part of the modern-day diet and contribute to inflammation, which in turn plays a considerable role in the development of arthritis.

By contrast, our grandparents’ diet was rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. They also consumed fewer calories overall, which has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Takeaway: To mitigate the risk of developing arthritis, it’s crucial to consume a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. This includes generous portions of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins like fish and poultry, and whole grains. Limiting processed foods and added sugars will also help keep inflammation in check.

Changes in footwear

The type of shoes we wear has a significant impact on our joints. While our grandparents’ generation may not have had the vast array of shoe options that we enjoy today, they primarily wore shoes with less elevation and cushioning. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, our choice of footwear can influence the development of osteoarthritis, particularly in the knees, by altering our walking gait.

Shoes with high heels and pointy toes force our feet into unnatural positions, which can lead to discomfort and joint problems. Additionally, overly cushioned shoes, particularly in athletic footwear, can impair our natural gait and cause extra strain on our joints during movement.

Takeaway: When selecting footwear, prioritize both comfort and function. Opt for shoes with good arch support, minimal elevation, and room for your toes to move. When it comes to athletic shoes, consult with a professional to ensure you’re using the correct gear for your chosen activity.

The bottom line

While the overall rate of arthritis has indeed increased since our grandparents’ days, it’s not just attributed to living longer or higher obesity rates. Factors such as sedentary lifestyles, dietary shifts, and footwear choices have all contributed to this increase.

Although we may not have complete control over all aspects of our environment and lifestyle, by understanding the risk factors and making conscious choices to incorporate more movement, prioritize a healthy diet, and select proper footwear, we can take steps towards reducing our risk for arthritis, and live healthier lives in the process.