Suffering with joint pain is a stressful business. Whether it's throbbing back pain or sore, aching ankles, pain can stop you dead in its tracks, throwing daily chores and work commitments into complete disarray.
Suffering with painful joints can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety, no matter what age you are. But the bad news? Those niggling aches won't just go away. The older you get, the worse those aches and pains are likely to get, so ignoring them when you're younger won't do you any favours at all. In fact, when you reach your forties, it will make life that much more difficult, and the pain a whole lot worse.
It's pretty rare for anyone over the age of 45 not to have suffered with some form of joint pain or stiffness, and you can bet your life that the majority of those affected have all ignored the early warning signs.
Joints may be clever things; they roll, glide, rotate and bend allowing our bodies to jump, run, walk, hop, dance – you name it, they can do it – but they're also sensitive things, that, like anything, are subject to wear and tear, so you need to protect them early on in life to prevent unnecessary suffering later.
There are a number of reasons your joints get worse as you get older. Age of course being the main culprit. But besides ageing, poor diets, hormonal changes, excessive exercise and even weight gain can all put pressure on sore joints, making the pain worse in later years, and in some cases cause more serious illnesses developing like arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Here are the most common causes of joint pain, and what you can do now to stop the pain from getting worse as you get older.
1. Bad posture
It's the most common cause of back and neck pain, and a lot of the time it's from sitting incorrectly at your desk. Make sure you move around as much as you can during the day, to encourage a little movement in your joints. Stand up tall whenever you can, and take up yoga or pilates, something to help build your core and straighten and strengthen your back.
2. Excessive exercise
It will come as no surprise that if you over-do it your joints will start to suffer, particularly if you ignore any niggling warning signs. Exercise is always good, but too much will put unnecessary pressure on joints and risk further damage to cartilage. Listen to your body and take it easy. It will tell you when it wants you to stop. If you start to experience pain after exercise, then your best bet is to rest until the pain has subsided. Don't run on a painful knee, as this could only exacerbate the existing injury further, and increase the chances of developing more serious illnesses like osteoarthritis later on in life. It's best to avoid high-impact sports like running and opt for something that will help to soothe and strengthen your joints instead like cycling or swimming.
3. Heavy lifting
Trying to lift a heavy chest of drawers on your own might sound like a good idea, but the reality of lifting heavy objects alone is that you will most likely cause yourself some serious damage. Get someone to help you if it feels too heavy, and make sure you lift from the ground ensuring sure your back is strong and supported. That way you'll avoid any serious and embarrassing injuries.
4. Poor diet
Eating the wrong food, believe it or not, actually has a huge part to play with joint pain, particularly if you already suffer from illnesses like arthritis. There are certain foods that can increase inflammation like sugar, saturated fats, refined carbohydrate gluten and alcohol – these will only worsen your joint pain. What's more, your bones need nutrients to keep them strong, so top up on vitamin D and B12 to strengthen and vitamins A, C and E to protect against free-radicals. Stick to fruits, complex carbohydrates like brown rice and wholegrain bread, oil-rich nuts, avocado and oily fish like sardines and salmon, to decrease inflammation and reduce pain naturally.
5. Weight gain
Not only will the wrong foods weaken your bones and joints, they will also cause you to gain weight causing unnecessary pressure on your joints. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that's rich in vitamins and nutrients to keep your weight and joints healthy and pain-free.
6. Being inactive
As with over-exercising, not exercising enough is also damaging for your joint health. Make sure you move around as much as possible to keep your joints supple, and stretch out fully whenever you exercise.