Wet suit advice for someone with RA and OA of hips

I would like to go wild swimming this summer and want to wear a wet suit - at the age of 71 I feel the cold. I've had RA for 16 yrs and now have OA of the hips. I want to swim as a low impact form of exercise, but my joints are often stiff and uncomfortable. I am concerned about getting into and out off the wet suit - does anyone have any advice or experience of using a wetsuit? Would it be sensible to buy a top and wetsuit pants separately - on the face of it that sounds easier but may have hidden issues that I haven't anticipated?


  • chrisb
    chrisb Moderator Posts: 663

    Hi @toneblueshawk and welcome to the Versus Arthritis forum.

    So, you have RA and OA and are looking for advice from forum members as regards choosing a wetsuit that might help with the difficulties experienced due to your arthritis.

    Well this is certainly a question that I’ve not come across before and unfortunately I’ve not been able to find any useful information for you from our database. I hope that other forum members have some experience/tips that they can offer.

    Best Wishes


    Need more help - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,739

    You may find a one piece sleeveless wet suit easier to put on as you can get the bottom half on by pulling at the top half. Maybe think about getting one that’s not impossibly tight too? (I bought mine in my early 30’s, but by early 40’s I could hardly breathe once zipped up!).

    I’ve got a few wild swimming friends who are more clued up about the right sort of kit, it’s a growing trend so there’s probably quite a good choice now. I’ll ask them and get back to you.

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,739

    Right @toneblueshawk , here’s a selection of answers from female wild swimming friends:

    Get a swim-specific suit, the neoprene is a bit thinner, particularly below the arms to allow movement. Get one that finishes short, eg below the calf, for ease of removal, with neoprene boots, gloves and hat. A snug fit is better for keeping you warm. My physio suggested a two piece would be easier to put on. They also suggest you try a neoprene friendly lubricant such as Bodyglide.

    When the weather’s warmer my friends tend to manage in a normal costume but with neoprene gloves, boots and hats.

    They also suggest getting a dry robe, so you can either get changed under it, or go home wrapped in it for warmth, then get changed under a warm shower, as the wet suit is easier to remove when wet.

    Hope these help, and happy swimming!

  • Laura_88
    Laura_88 Member Posts: 5

    Hey I do surfing and regularly wear a wetsuit. I live in the North East and the sea is generally freezing so I wear a thick wetsuit, boots, and sometimes a hood. The best advice I could give you is to find a shop which has plenty of wetsuits and go and try different ones on. If you’re close to any surfing shops I would definitely pop into one as surf shops generally offer the best advice regarding wetsuit. I’m not going to lie though…it’s hard work putting on a wetsuit so I would definitely try before you buy. Best wishes Laura

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,739
    edited 24. Jun 2021, 20:19

    Hi @Laura_88 , I used to do white water kayaking. I once needed to replace my dry cag (top half of dry suit that I wore over my sleeveless wet suit.) and went to an outlet that had a huge choice. These are designed to be tight to keep the water out, and require a degree of stamina, perseverance and sheer double jointedness to put on, and even more to remove. With several I tried I had to get the assistants to peel me out of them by putting my hands on their hips and bracing myself as they pulled the dry cag over my head, while trying not to pull my head off my shoulders. Several were so tight round the neck I could barely breathe and was seriously concerned whether they would get me out before I turned blue. With a few, having already got most of it over my head and pulled the neoprene waist band down to my hips, and having squeezed my hands through the tourniquet-like rubber cuffs, with rising panic I realised I couldn't get my head through the rubber collar at all. I was trapped, blundering about the shop like a bizarre black and red headless monster calling for help. After an hour of this I was completely exhausted and just picked the one I could get in and out of on my own!

  • Thank you all for taking the time to give such brilliant advice - I shall try to find a shop where I can try a number of suits. The Bodyglide sounds like a very good idea, especially for hands and feet, and because I don't plan to swim in cold conditions I will choose a thinner suit.

    Thanks again,