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10 ways to help stiff and aching joints

They rarely get a break, so it's no wonder our joints can hurt from time to time. Julia Molony rounds up some of the best ways to ensure you remain supple

As we get older, our joints get sore and it sometimes takes us a lot longer to get moving, especially after long periods of inactivity. So, what are the best ways to keep you going?

1 Get moving - It seems logical that when we feel stiff, we should rest, but, on the contrary, exercise can help you improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints, explains arthritis expert Brian Lynch. Moderate exercise "boosts strength and energy," he says.

2 Dive in - There's a reason why immersion in water is regarded as an age-old palliative for aches and pains: it works. "The buoyancy of the water takes pressure off painful joints and you may find you can move more freely than you can on land," says Brian.

3 Eat right - It can be tempting to neck dietary supplements at the first sign of pain, but the evidence of their benefits for arthritis and pain is patchy and limited, says GP Dr Matt Piccaver. Much more beneficial is a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.

4 Watch your weight - "Losing 1kg of excess weight decreases stress on the knees by 4kg," explains Brian. "Experts agree that maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the most important things you can do for your joints.

5 Rethink high-impact sport - "Knees, hips and shoulders, particularly, take a battering over a lifetime," says Dr Piccaver. High-impact sports cause "slow, steady, repeated damage". This is bad news if your favourite way to unwind on a weekend is a boisterous game of five-a-side.

6 Stretch it out - Starting the day with a few yoga stretches can help you stay limber all day long, says Nadia Nahrain, yoga teacher to the stars. "I do a little stretch each day for five-10 minutes in the morning. All animals do this."

7 See a physio - "Physical therapies are often an important part of a successful arthritis treatment programme," says Brian Lynch. "Physical therapists focus on the manual treatment of the soft tissue and use hands-on techniques to diagnose, prevent, or treat underlying conditions."

8 Cut down on caffeine - "Very high coffee intake appears to increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis," according to Dr Matt Piccaver. One study demonstrated that people who drink four or more cups of coffee per day doubled their risk of having a blood marker for the disease.

9 De-stress - Stress and anxiety are aggravating factors for joint pain, according to Dr Chris Jenner. The hormones released into our bloodstream when we are chronically stressed can lead to "flare ups in pain and inflammation" if they are circulating at high levels, or long periods of time.

10 Drink enough water - "Taking in sufficient liquids is vital for overall health and well-being - regardless of whether you suffer from arthritis or not," says Dr Chris Jenner. "Eight tumbler-sized glasses of water every day can help reduce damage to cartilage in the case of osteoarthritis."

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