How to protect and strengthen your hips and knees

Hips and knees are designed to last a lifetime but injury, accidents and osteoarthritis can leave your joints worn out and very painful. Our experts in nutrition, orthopaedics and exercise share their tips for looking after your joints.

Hip and knee joints need to function well to perform the most basic and everyday movements, including standing, walking, running, bending and stretching.

Wear and tear can happen naturally over time and in some cases surgery, including hip resurfacinghip replacements and knee replacements, may be the best course of action. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis and get the best performance out of your hips and knees, perhaps for many years to come.

We asked our orthopaedic, exercise and nutritional experts for their tips on how to look after your joints.

Lighten the load

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Peter Gallacher from Nuffield Health Shrewsbury Hospital, says:

There are many good reasons to lose weight, and looking after your joints is one of them. Hips and knees are load-bearing joints. The heavier you are, the more load they have to bear and the faster they'll wear out. Your hips or knees may even hurt when walking if you carry excess weight.

You don't have to lose much to make a big difference. For example, when you walk up or down a flight of stairs, the load on your knees is roughly seven times your body weight. If you're overweight, that adds up very quickly. But losing just one stone will take around seven stone off your knee joint with every step.

Read Mr Gallacher's 4 signs you may need a knee replacement article.

Strengthen your hips and knees with exercise - but take it easy

Senior Wellbeing Personal Trainer Haydn Ward says:

Excessive exercise can cause your joints to wear out prematurely. Many elite sports men and women find they have problems with their joints earlier in life than less active people, but that shouldn't put you off exercise.

The benefits of regular exercise far outweigh the negatives. Building strong, flexible muscle around your hips and knees will ensure the joints don't have to do all the work by themselves. Gentle exercise and stretches focused on your hips and knees can make a big difference to your ability to avoid and recover from injury and reduce wear and tear on the joints.

Read Haydn's Exercises to protect your hips and knees article.

Eat healthy - oils, vitamin E, antioxidants

Nutritional Therapist Mary Cotter says:

Like a machine with moving parts, our body needs oil to keep joints lubricated and healthy. Eat oily fish rich in omega-3 fats like salmon and mackerel twice a week. Omega-3 has been linked to reduced joint pain and morning stiffness.

Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties and healthy levels have been linked to lower risk of joint and bone cell damage*. You'll get plenty by adding avocado, sunflower seeds, nuts and even lobster to your diet.

Antioxidants are thought to slow the progression of arthritis inflammation. They're found in brightly-coloured berries, blueberries are particularly rich in antioxidants.

Read Mary's healthy joints recipe.


Thursday 25 February 2016

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