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
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