Osteoarthritis and How It Affects Your Flexibility After 50



The Sneaky Culprit Behind Joint Stiffness: Osteoarthritis and How It Affects Your Flexibility After 50 

As a physical therapist who’s all about helping people over 40 stay active and independent, I’d like to talk about a topic that often sneaks up on us as we age and forces many people to think “There’s nothing you can do about it”.

Osteoarthritis. We’ll explore what this joint condition is, how it messes with our joint flexibility, and why it’s crucial to tackle it head-on.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, or OA for short, is the slow and steady wear and tear of the cushioning tissues (cartilage) that cover the ends of your bones where they meet in a joint.

This degeneration can affect any joint in your body, but it’s particularly notorious in weight-bearing joints like knees, hips, and spine.   

As we age, the once-smooth and thick cartilage becomes rough, frayed, and thinner, causing bones to rub against each other. 

Often docs will refer to this situation as bone-on-bone and is the reason people will need joint replacement.

The Flexibility Heist: How Osteoarthritis Steals Your Joint Movement

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how osteoarthritis affects your joint flexibility after you hit the fabulous age of 50. Your joints are meant to be these beautifully synchronized machines, allowing you to move freely and easily like they were when we were kids. 

Every year, as the birthday candles multiply, you lose a bit of joint movement. On average, it’s estimated that people over 50 can lose about 1% of their joint flexibility annually or said differently, 6 degrees every decade.

While that might not seem like much, let me break it down for you.

The Impact of osteoarthritis on your Daily Life:

#1. Walking:

Ever noticed that your stride isn’t as sprightly as it once was? OA might be to blame. As the cushioning in your knee joints wears thin, walking can become a real challenge. Losing joint flexibility shortens our step length, slows our walking speed, and increases our risk of falling.  

#2. Getting Up from a Chair:

That simple act of rising from your favorite armchair can turn into a mini obstacle course. OA affects your hip and knee joints, making it harder to stand up gracefully. You might even catch yourself doing a subtle grunt and groan—yes, we’ve all been there!

#3. Reaching Overhead:

Remember when reaching for things on the top shelf was a breeze? Well, OA can make it feel like you’re trying to reach the stars. As shoulder joints become less flexible, you might find yourself using creative tactics to grab that dish on the top shelf before you consider just leaving it there.

The Vicious Cycle

Here’s the kicker: decreased joint flexibility due to OA often leads to reduced physical activity. You might find yourself moving less, avoiding exercise, and missing out on the joy of an active life. This, my friends, is a vicious cycle.

Less activity leads to muscle weakness and weight gain, which, in turn, puts even more pressure on your joints, exacerbating the OA symptoms.

More OA symptoms lead to less activity… and so on.  It’s like a never-ending loop of discomfort and stiffness.

The Importance of Taking Action

Now that we’ve painted a clear picture of how OA can affect your joint flexibility and daily life, let’s talk about the silver lining. 

There is plenty you CAN do to treat OA.

You have the power to break this cycle and maintain your mobility, and it all starts with a few key principles:

#1. Exercise:

Ah, exercise— if OA is the supervillain, exercise is the superhero. Regular, low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and gentle yoga can work wonders.

These activities keep your joints moving, strengthen supporting muscles and help maintain flexibility.

#2. Nutrition:

Your body is your temple, and what you put in it matters. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, veggies, and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and is high in protein to help with muscle-building and maintenance to slow down the OA progression.

#3. Weight Management:

Extra pounds put added stress on your joints. Maintaining a healthy weight can ease the burden on your knees, hips, and spine, giving them a fighting chance against Osteoarthritis

Pro TIP:  more muscle burns more fat.

#4. Physical Therapy:

Don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals like myself. Physical therapists can tailor exercises and treatments to your specific needs, helping you regain and maintain joint flexibility.

Say No to Quick Fixes

Now, let’s have a moment of truth. While the world of modern medicine has its merits, there’s no magic pill or surgical procedure that can completely make up for a lack of healthy habits when it comes to Osteoarthritis. Pills might provide temporary relief, but they won’t stop the underlying progression of the condition.

And joint replacement? Well, that’s often a last resort when all else fails AND without healthy habits, will leave you with poor flexibility, weak muscles, and a poor quality of life.  

The key here is prevention and proactive management. By embracing a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight, you’re not only helping to prevent OA but also ensuring that you age gracefully, staying active and independent.

In conclusion, osteoarthritis is the sneaky culprit that can steal your joint flexibility as you age. However, armed with knowledge and the right habits, you can keep those joints moving smoothly well into your golden years.

Remember, exercise and a healthy lifestyle are your best friends in this battle.

So, get out there, enjoy life, and don’t let Osteoarthritis dictate your lifestyle!


If you want to get started on your Fitness Journey, join our Fitness Program now and stay active!

For more related and knowledgeable articles:

Read Our Blog: Voted “3 Best Physical Therapist In Glendale, Az”

Read Our Blog: The best exercise For Arthritic Joints

Watch our Physical Therapy success stories to learn more about how we helped our patients have a better life:

Knee Pain (and weakness)- Jordan’s success story

Follow Us On Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

You Might Also Like...