Expert opinion: Nicole Bryant – Physiotherapist and Director of High Line Active
Joint problems commonly present in adolescence and they’re usually related to sporting incidents. Things like knees, shoulders, and ankles are where we see problems – acute injuries that are from a ligament sprain or a dislocation.
Then in the late teens and early 20s, you start seeing neck and back pain that’s associated with sitting all day in office jobs.
I hear that joint pain is an inevitable part of ageing all the time, but that’s only partly true.
Most age-related changes actually come from not moving. When we move, fluid lubricates our joints and keeps things healthy – the ligaments and connective tissue stays nice and flexible. When people don’t move, they lose that flexibility around the joint. That means that they’re more likely to suffer from accelerated wear and tear.
A common reason that joints begin to ache is because of stiffness and immobility – especially when people haven’t been active in many years. It’s never too late to improve – people in their 70s and 80s will still make gains – but the earlier you start, the better.
The best thing you can do for your body is to remain active, fit, and healthy. Have an exercise routine and stay moving. If you work in an office, don’t sit still for too long.
The big thing with stiffness is that, although it might be causing you pain, once you start moving it will often go away. It’s a matter of knowing how to move safely, and that’s where we come in as physiotherapists. If you’re concerned, make an appointment and a physio will develop a plan for you. It’s very rare that I would tell a patient they need to stop exercising.