The older you get, the more important it becomes to take care of your bones and joints. The younger you start taking care of your bones and joints, the better chance you’ll have of keeping them in good condition during your senior years. That said, it’s never too late to start taking care of your bones and joints and a home sauna is a great way to do it.
As a baby, you have 176 true bones plus another 124 “bone-like” structures made out of cartilage. Over time, these bones join together and harden until you’re left with 206 true bones. With one exception, all of these bones connect to at least one other bone. These connections are known as joints. The one exception is the hyoid at the base of the tongue.
Bones are mostly calcium and as such, they are very strong but not as flexible as cartilage. This is one of the main reasons why adults have more strength than children. The flip side of this, however, is that bones cannot “give” the way cartilage can. This is the main reason why adults are less flexible. It’s therefore also why they’re more vulnerable to broken bones.
Joints are especially vulnerable. There are several reasons for this. One of the most obvious is that they’re heavily used. They tend to be fairly complex structures and the bones in them generally have relatively low density. Also, joints are usually particularly vulnerable to issues with surrounding tissues such as muscles.
Once you move out of your prime adult years and into your senior years, bones and hence joins can become more brittle. This makes them both weaker and more fragile. They also become more susceptible to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
As with practically everything else related to health, the state of your bones and joints depends partly on your genetics and partly on your lifestyle. Currently, there’s not a lot you can do about your genetics. That means you have to focus on your lifestyle. Here are some key points to help.
Biomechanics is basically the mechanics of movement. Most people naturally learn basic actions like walking and running. Some people, however, may need a bit of extra help to do them properly. If your shoes regularly show indications of excess wear in specific places, you may be walking or running incorrectly. It really is worth getting this checked by a medical professional.
Additionally, there are three main types of action you need to be sure to perform accurately. These are:
Actions you perform regularly
Actions involving strength
Actions involving flexibility/agility
If an action falls into more than one of these categories then you need to be especially careful how you perform it.
If you’re into fitness and/or sports, then it really can be worth investing in some training/coaching to make sure that you’re performing movements correctly. If you work at a job that requires strength (e.g. heavily lifting), then take the health-and-safety measures seriously. They really are there for a reason.
There is simply no getting around the fact that calcium is essential for healthy bones and therefore healthy joints. It’s also essential for healthy teeth, nails and hair. In general, the easiest way to ensure that you get plenty of calcium is to consume plenty of milk and/or milk-based products like yogurt and cheese.
If, however, you do not eat dairy, then you need to be sure to get sufficient calcium from other sources. These include fortified plant milks and related products (e.g. vegan yogurts), many nuts and seeds, and most green, leafy vegetables.
In some cases, you may need to top up your calcium intake with an appropriate supplement. This is particularly likely for women who are pregnant or nursing. Active people may also need extra calcium as may older people.
This is where the home sauna comes in. Home saunas come in two forms. There are traditional “wet” saunas where you are expected to use steam. There are also modern infrared saunas. These provide dry heat. In terms of caring for your bones and joints, both are effective. If you have a respiratory condition, then a wet sauna can provide a lot of relief.
The main reason heat benefits the bones and joints is because it stimulates blood flow. It also expands blood vessels to make it easier for the blood to travel freely. Blood is what delivers oxygen and nutrients to your body as a whole. It also plays a key role in waste disposal. Sweat also helps to remove waste from the body.
Saunas, therefore, speed up the delivery of what your body needs and the removal of what it doesn’t. Just as importantly, saunas encourage blood to get right down into the smallest vessels such as the ones at the ends of your fingers and toes. It’s no coincidence that the joints here are often targets for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Another benefit of saunas is that they help with weight control. Basically, they stimulate the heart and the body’s systems in the same way as gentle exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight has numerous benefits. One of them is that it reduces the load on the bones and joints.
For completeness, saunas are also great for:
Improving the condition of your skin, hair, and nails
Heart and lung health
Traditional wet saunas are also excellent for soothing respiratory conditions. The steam can get right into the lungs and soothe any inflammation. Even if you don’t have a respiratory condition, you can benefit from steam’s cleaning properties. You might be quite surprised (or shocked) at what steam can draw out of your lungs.
If you have outdoor space, then it can be great to invest in a proper sauna cabin. These often become garden health-and-wellness sanctuaries. Their main purpose can be for heat treatments but they can also be lovely places for general spa and/or beauty treatments.
If you don’t, however, then you don’t have to miss out. You can buy an indoor sauna tent or mat. Just be prepared to invest in one with proper medical credentials. Budget infrared saunas can be unsafe. Even when they’re not, they’re unlikely to last for very long, especially not if you’re using them regularly.