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9 Tips To Train And Feed Your Cartilage

Do you have aches and pain in your joints when you wake up in the am? Do you hear a ground glass sound in your knees when you go up the stairs? Lets’s chat about how to optimize your joint health and keep your cartilage nice and lubricated for the long haul! We all know the importance of getting our daily dose of vitamin D and calcium to ward off osteoporosis and keep our bones in optimal condition. But there’s more to bones than just…bones! Cartilage is a crucial element to bone health. That same soft pliable substance that makes up our ears and nose is what creates pads of shock absorption between the bones. Cartilage helps the joints glide smoothly, so we’re nimble, comfortable, and strong.

When our cartilage erodes or becomes damaged, we stiffen up and feel sore as arthritis from wear and tear sets in. Without healthy cartilage, simple movements become a chore. Thankfully, once you’re aware of what’s going in your joints, it’s pretty simple to maintain healthy cartilage.

Healthy Cartilage

8 tips for cartilage care

  1. Stay hydrated. It’s no secret that drinking water is at the top of the health priority list. And here’s yet another reason, it’s so important to stay properly hydrated. When cartilage dries out it, it can’t do its job. Brittle and rough, it doesn’t slide easily. And once cartilage becomes damaged, it absorbs far less water than the intact cartilage—making it difficult to keep it hydrated.
  2. Eat extra collagen/gelatin. There’s a reason for the recent bone broth rage: glycine. Glycine maintains and repairs cartilage. But, for proper metabolic function, our bodies need about 10 grams of glycine every day. And since our bodies only make 3 grams, we need to get about 7 grams from food—more if recovering from existing damage.Luckily, it’s easy to get your daily dose when you’re aware of it. Along with broths made from fish, poultry and other animal bones, plain gelatin can be added to pan sauces or smoothies. And, of course there’s always the super-easy gelatin dessert cups and pork skin snacks, which are among the densest dietary sources. Vegetarian? Try hemp seeds sprinkled on your salad or over pasta dishes.Also keep in mind that glycine promotes sleep, which brings us to number three.
  3. Be a champion of your sleep. Most of our bodily repair and regeneration happens in sleep. That’s because growth hormones are released most readily in the night. These hormones play a key role in cartilage repair. So, it makes sense, especially after vigorous physical training or injury, that we need all the sleep we can get to repair the damage we’ve done to our cartilage.
  4. Be active. To keep your body running like a finely oiled machine, you need to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Take walks, do squats, stretch…just keep moving. Try to walk 250 steps every hour when you’re at work. Take a swing past the water cooler, walk to the bathroom, print things off on the copier that’s farther away. Steps add up quickly and can really make a big difference in the long run. Best way to create a good habit, set an hourly timer on your phone to remind yourself to take a walk or get off the subway one stop before your destination.
  5. Walk over varied terrain. Changing up your walking routine exposes your cartilage to different positions and different loading patterns. So, change your route: climb over fallen branches, walk up and down hills (Harlem Hill in Central Park anyone?), and balance on rocks. It may be a struggle now, especially in NYC, but take some day trips outside the city, your cartilage will thank you later.Healthy Cartilage
  6. Get out in nature. Sunlight has been scientifically linked to healthy cartilage in older adults. Natural surroundings also reduce stress, which in turn lowers cortisol—a known hindrance to cartilage repair. Plus, fresh air promotes healthy immune response, and since some forms of arthritis are autoimmune disorders, it’s a crucial component to full body health.
  7. Balance omega-3 and omega-6. Shown to improve symptoms of arthritis and cartilage degradation, omega-3s are a great diet addition. Salmon and sardines are great sources—but any wild-caught and fatty fish is teeming with it. And, while avocados and nuts are ok sources of omega-6, it’s best to avoid high-PUFA seed oils because they have too much omega-6. By balancing omega-3 and omega-6 intake, we help keep our cartilage from breaking down.
  8. Lose excess weight. Is there every really a reason to NOT lose excess weight? In addition to the slew of health issues extra weight brings, it causes cartilage to degenerate. And studies show that losing weight doesn’t just slow down the degeneration, but in many cases, stops it altogether.
  9. Feed your Cartilage. When the last 10% of your pain or discomfort isn’t getting knocked out and you’ve been doing all your exercises, we start to look elsewhere. Specifically the gut and nutrition. Patients do a deep dive with Dr Clarke into daily eating habits. For our top anti-inflammatory and supplement recommendations, check out Metagenics:

By incorporating simple practices into your everyday routine, you can do wonders for your cartilage. If you want to know more tips, check us out at Urban Wellness Clinic, we could talk about this stuff all day. Or learn our latest tips on how to move better, smarter, and pain free. Shoot us a message at or call us at 212-355-0445.

Best in Health,

Dr Emily Kiberd