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Top 5 joint injuries you can avoid

Athletes aren’t the only people at risk of torn ligaments and twisted ankles. Everyday activities such as gardening and housecleaning can cause strains, sprains and other injuries. Beware of these common injuries and take steps to prevent them:

1. Knee injuries

To avoid ligament and tendon injuries, meniscus tears, bursitis and patellar injuries, choose shoes that fit and are appropriate for your activity. Use protective gear such as cushions for gardening or knee braces for hiking. And be smart about activity: If walking hurts, try swimming, which has less impact.

2. Twisted ankles

Approximately 25,000 people suffer a sprained ankle every day, whether due to stepping on an uneven surface or playing sports. To protect your ankles, warm up before activities, pay attention to where you’re walking and be extra careful when you walk in heels.

3. Shoulder injuries

Any activity that involves repetitive, overhead motions, such as washing windows, can cause a shoulder injury. Sports like swimming can also leave you with problems such as shoulder instability or dislocation or a rotator cuff injury. To fend off problems, try these exercises:

  • Wall push-ups: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Do a slow push-up. Hold for a count of five. Repeat five times.
  • Shoulder press-ups: Sit in a chair with armrests, feet on the floor. Use your arms to slowly rise up and off the chair. Hold for a count of five. Repeat five times.

4. Wrist injuries

Wrist injuries can throw a wrench in your daily activities. Two common problems: sprains (often the result of a fall) and carpal tunnel syndrome, a repetitive motion disorder. Sprains occur when the ligaments connecting bones are stretched. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when tendons in the carpal tunnel, a narrow channel that runs through the wrist, swell and press on the nerves. It’s often caused by repetitive motions, such as knitting, golfing or typing.

To protect your wrists, be extra careful when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces. Limit the time you spend on activities involving the wrist or take frequent breaks.

5. Tennis elbow

Most people who get tennis elbow—inflammation of the tendons surrounding the elbow—don’t even play tennis. You can get it after doing repetitive motions like raking or painting.

Guard against tennis elbow with exercises that strengthen the forearm and wrist. Warm up before activity and take regular breaks from your computer, sewing machine or garden.