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Ten ways to take care of your joints

Jane Murphy / 09 November 2015 ( 25 June 2018 )

Joint pain is a very common problem – usually the result of arthritis or injury. Discover the simple measures you can take to protect yourself.

Rose hips
Evidence suggests that a component of rose hip, known as GOPO, can help ease joint pain and inflammation.

1. Use your joints wisely

It may sound obvious – but do remember that your larger, stronger joints can take more of a load than smaller ones.

So instead of opening a door with your hand and wrist, for example, try leaning against it with your shoulder and hip.

And if you need to carry a heavy load, spread the weight over several joints: wear a backpack or use a cross-body bag with a shoulder strap, rather than holding your shopping bags in your hands.

Aching joints? Find out what it could be

2. Don't carry too much at once

While we're on the subject of carrying the shopping, do think ahead and try not to overload yourself.

You may be keen to buy all your Christmas presents in one go – but you won't enjoy the festive season in the slightest if you're laid up with joint pain.

Opt for a series of shorter trips at quieter times. Or, even better, do all your shopping online.

Avoid NHS waiting lists for joint replacement surgery. With Saga Health Insurance you’ll be seen quickly if you develop a new condition. Over 50? Find out more.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight puts you more at risk of joint pain, simply because it places extra stress on your weight-bearing joints.

And every little helps: one US study found that losing just 1lb in weight delivers a 4lb reduction in knee joint load for each step taken during everyday activities.

4. Do some exercise

Regular exercise will help you keep your weight in check, as well as boost your energy levels and help prevent stiffness and swelling.

Your joints are designed to keep moving, after all. But do opt for activities that won't put them under undue strain: swimming is good because it builds strength and suppleness while the water supports your weight.

Cycling, Pilates and yoga are also very effective. Speak to your GP or physiotherapist before embarking on a new fitness regime.

Which exercise is best for your health? Read our guide

5. Choose the right shoes

Always make sure you wear comfortable, supportive shoes. And remember, your feet may change shape as you get older, so it's a good idea to get them measured by an experienced fitter, as you may need a different size or width fitting.

Another tip? Stand up while you're being measured as your feet can change shape when you're standing.

6. Never ignore an injury

Even the most innocuous-seeming bump can contribute to cartilage breakdown and increase risk of severe joint pain or osteoarthritis, particularly in older people.

So if you've suffered a niggling injury or recurrent pain, do get it checked out by your GP. The sooner you act, the easier and quicker it will be to address.

7. Don't forget to move

We're back to stating the obvious again – but staying in one position, whether you're sitting or standing, for any length of time will cause your joints to stiffen up. So aim to move about and have a good stretch every 15 minutes or so.

If you do ever need to stand still for a long period – when you're in a queue, for instance – try to spread your weight evenly, rather than leaning on one leg. It may feel more comfortable at the time, but it places excessive pressure on your lower back, hip and knee.

Easy ways to keep moving

8. Try a rosehip supplement

There's strong evidence to suggest that a key component of rosehip, known as GOPO, can help ease joint pain and inflammation.

One Scandinavian study suggests it can alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce the need to take other painkilling medication.

Further research, published in the journal Phytomedicine, found it can improve joint mobility in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Rosehip is also rich in vitamin C, which prevents tissue damage by fighting harmful free radicals. GOPO Joint Health (£17.99 for 120 capsules) is available in supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide.

9. Stop smoking

Need yet another reason to quit? Smoking just a few cigarettes each day – that's between one and seven – can more than double your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to researchers in Sweden, who followed more than 30,000 women over a seven-year period.

Read our guide to giving up smoking

10. Eat some salmon

...or mackerel, sardines or fresh tuna. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids – antioxidants found in oily fish – could halve risk of rheumatoid arthritis, says another major Swedish study.

Don't like salmon? Try these alternatives for omega-3

Women whose dietary intake of omega-3s consistently exceeded 0.21g per day – that's at least one serving of oily fish each week – had a 52 per cent lower risk of the condition, compared with women who consistently ate less than 0.21g.

Find out what you need to know about arthritis with our guide

Want to talk to a GP today? With Saga Health Insurance, you have unlimited access to a qualified GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more about our GP phone service.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.