As you get older, you may find that your hips and knees ache or feel stiff more often. This may be down to natural wear and tear, however, injuries, osteoarthritis and accidents can also affect your joints and cause mobility issues.
Building and maintaining hip and knee strength is essential to help your joints work well so you can get on with everyday tasks without discomfort and enjoy a full and active lifestyle.
While some wear and tear to your knees and hips may need medical attention, there are things you can do to protect and strengthen your joints and therefore reduce your risk of problems.
Here are some easy ways to take care of your knees and hips, ensure they stay strong for as long as possible and reduce your risk of osteoarthritis.
Your weight can have a huge effect on your joints, especially your knees and hips as these are load-bearing, which means they carry your body weight. Extra weight puts extra pressure on them, which can cause them to wear out much faster.
It’s a good idea to lose any excess weight to reduce the load on your knees and hips. Even losing a small amount can make a big difference, improving your mobility and reducing the risk of knee and hip pain.
Inactivity can cause your joints to become stiff and weak, reducing your range of motion. To keep your knees and hips working properly, you need to keep moving.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to head to the gym every day. There are plenty of gentle exercises you can do on a daily basis that will help, including walking and other low-impact activities such as cycling and Pilates.
If you’re carrying extra weight or are just starting to get into exercise, swimming is a great option. Swimming or exercising in water reduces the pressure on your joints, while still allowing you to build their strength.
Good posture isn’t just vital for a healthy spine, it can affect every part of your body, including your knees and hips. If you don’t pay attention to your posture, it’s easy to start slouching, especially if you work at a desk during the day. Your posture can also worsen as you get older, causing you to become stooped.
Poor posture not only puts you at risk of back and neck pain, it can also change your body’s centre of gravity. This puts more pressure on your hips and knees, weakening them over time.
To improve your posture, pay attention to how you sit and stand on a daily basis. When standing up, keep your head in line with your shoulders and your shoulders directly over your hips. If your work involves sitting at a desk, make sure your workspace is ergonomic, with a supportive chair adjusted to the right height for your desk.
When it comes to reducing knee pain and improving overall knee health, it isn’t just about the joints. You also need to strengthen the muscles that support your knee joints.
Doing exercises that build up your hamstrings, abductors and quadriceps will help to protect the cartilage in your knee joints and therefore maintain your joint health. Exercises can involve using weight machines, such as a leg press, or can be free-standing, such as squats and lunges. It’s important to do exercises that you’re comfortable with and that don’t cause you any pain.
What you eat affects your hip and knee health. Eat a diet rich in omega–3 fatty acids as they help reduce stiffness in your joints and reduce inflammation that can lead to joint pain. You can either take omega–3 supplements or eat oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, several times a week.
Vitamin E is also important for joint health as it too can reduce inflammation. Maintaining good vitamin E levels has been found to lower the risk of joint damage. Good sources of dietary vitamin E include nuts, sunflower seeds and avocado.
A diet rich in antioxidants is also great for your joint health as they reduce inflammation, which often occurs in arthritis and causes joint pain. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, kale and beetroots are all good sources of antioxidants.
The shoes you wear can have a big impact on the health of your knees and hips. Hard-soled shoes allow the impact of your foot hitting the floor to be felt right up through your legs and into your knees and hips. Meanwhile, wearing heels can affect your centre of gravity, putting extra pressure on your knees and hips.
Wearing comfortable shoes that provide the right support will improve the alignment of your joints and reduce the pressure on them. Your shoes should have a soft, shock-absorbing sole to reduce the impact of your feet hitting the floor with each step and should also be fitted correctly to stop your feet rolling inward or outward.
When it comes to shoes for exercise, such as running, it’s a good idea to get advice from a specialist retailer to ensure you get a pair that fits correctly to help you maintain your posture.
While regular stretching and exercising are important to keep your knees and hips healthy, you need to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Carrying on with your routine if your joints are painful, swollen or stiffer than usual can cause further damage.
Take stock of any discomfort or pain you’re experiencing and if you notice your symptoms getting worse during a particular activity, take a break and look after your joints.
You can reduce any pain or swelling in your knees or hips by applying an ice pack to help reduce inflammation. Don’t put the ice pack directly on your skin, instead wrap it in a tea towel or flannel, and don’t leave it on for longer than 20 minutes. For stiffness, heat packs or soaking in a warm bath can help relax your muscles and ease any tension.
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.
Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.
Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.
The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:
Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager
Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.
Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor
Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.
Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing
Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.