Developing arthritis at 22-years of age was something semi-professional basketball player Claran Burns never even considered.
The high-level basket ball player had played sport competitively since he was 10 years old, so when he was diagnosed with arthritis and unable to continue his career playing for the Republic of Ireland, he was devastated.
Burns' plight is something many athletes face at some point in their lives. Leading an intensely active lifestyle soon takes its toll on a human body and many find their careers are curtailed prematurely as a result.
Arthritis Research UK has now launched a research programme looking into ways of prolonging the health and effectiveness of joints.
Prof Alan Silman, medical director of the charity said: "We need to know how to achieve a balance between exercise that is good and exercise that is harmful. In general, using your joints is good because cartilage and bone need the stimulus of exercise. Even a little bit of damage is okay because it will repair, but when damage is outweighing the repair mechanism, then it becomes something else."
Experts believe there are ways to exercise that will reduce the risk of osteoarthritis, which effects nine million people in the UK and causes pain, stiffness and impaired mobility. Opting for low-impact activities such as cycling, walking and swimming is a sensible move as it puts the least strain on joints and can result in weight loss.
Carrying less weight is another way of reducing the risk and experts suggest keeping moderately active throughout the day if possible. Tips include walking to work, taking a walk at break and using the toilet upstairs to squeeze in extra bouts of activity for those working in an office.
Therapies such as physiotherapy and alternative rosehip therapy are also recommended, and both have been used to help basketball player Claran.
Warming up and cooling down before and after exercise is crucial for joint care.
To find out more about therapies available, please visit our Therapy Topics page.
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