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About Your Bones

What is the musculoskeletal system?

Our musculoskeletal system is composed of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints and other connective tissues. It acts as the supporting framework to our bodies, providing stability, structure, movement and agility.

  • Bones – stability and support
  • Muscles – strength and movement
  • Tendons – connect muscle to bone
  • Ligaments – connect bone to bone
  • Cartilage – protective padding at the end of bones

Musculoskeletal health is particularly important as we progress into our later years, as it is a time when loss of muscle and bone strength can occur naturally. A strong musculoskeletal system helps in the prevention of injury and in optimal recovery following surgery. It is also significant throughout life for the prevention of injury or for optimal recovery following surgery.

Anatomy of the Knee Joint Graphic
Musculoskeletal basics

Bones – The body’s framework

Joints – Let’s twist and turn

Muscles – The power within

Bone Mass Graph

Top tips for a healthy musculoskeletal system

Our musculoskeletal health and strength is determined to a significant extent by factors beyond our control such as genetics, gender and age. However, there are factors that we can control such as our diet, physical activity and lifestyle habits.

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A healthy body weight

Being either underweight or overweight can have a negative impact on musculoskeletal health. Being very thin or losing weight quickly can result in a low muscle mass (see sarcopenia). Alternatively, being overweight increases pressure on joints such as the knees, hips and back, thereby increasing the risk of pain and injury.

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A balanced diet which provides adequate nutrients, including calcium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin C and vitamin D, are essential for musculoskeletal health (see Nutrition Focus section).

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Staying strong

Weight-bearing, resistance-style exercises are particularly important for bone and muscle health – these include activities where your body must work against a force, such as gravity. Examples include skipping, running, tennis, dancing, brisk hill walking or simply climbing stairs. The National Guidelines on Physical Activity recommend that adults take part in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on five days a week (or 150 minutes a week).

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Exercises such as stretching, Pilates or yoga can be particularly beneficial for posture and supple joints. Stronger core muscles (abdominals and back) improve balance, helping to prevent falls.

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Smoking and Alcohol

Refrain from smoking and if you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.