As you begin to wrap up in your winter woolies, you may notice that your joints are beginning to stiffen up with the cold weather. Stiffness, aches, and pains are often associated with changes in the weather, especially during the falling temperatures of winter. The idea of cold weather causing internal pain seems a bit far-fetched, but it’s not just your imagination. Read on to learn the whys and hows of weather-related joint pain and what you can do to help your body!
Why Does The Weather Affect Our Body?
Changes in the atmospheric pressure in winter can cause our tendons, muscles, and surrounding tissues to expand. When we are cold our body restricts how much blood it sends to our extremities, so that it can focus on supplying our vital organs, like the heart and lungs. This makes the soft tissues around the joints less pliable, so joints often begin to feel tight, stiff, and very uncomfortable. Those who suffer with joint pain often blame the cold weather for making their condition worse, when in fact, this is not the case. The change in barometric pressure, which happens when the weather outside is changing, is what actually causes your joint pain to worsen. On the contrary, high humidity often has a significant impact on the pain in your joints. This is usually caused from dehydration in the body. Either way, weather can greatly affect how our joints are feeling our bodies whether we like it or not.
Are Some People More Susceptible Than Others?
Everyone’s body reacts to fluctuating temperatures and pressure. Joint problems or pain can react badly to the drop in barometric pressure during the winter weather and what may be a dull ache during the summer months, can become a shooting pain during winter when the weather is damp and cold. People that have arthritis and those experiencing chronic pain are more vulnerable to feeling discomfort. As well, the drop in temperature can have a major effect on your mood. When you are feeling down, the perception of pain can also become magnified!
Cope With Joint Pain This Winter
No matter the cause, winter stiffness and achiness are something many people experience. In order to reduce some of the symptoms of stiff and sore joints during the winter months, it is important to make the best effort to act against the cold.
- Layer Up
Ease the shock of cold weather on your body by dressing in layers to stay warm, especially if you’re going to be outside. Bundling up in when it’s cold out can help to reduce the shock to your joints and muscles, so don’t forget your hat and scarf to keep yourself insulated.
Build up muscle and bone strength through exercise. This reduces pressure on your joints, so they are less prone to injury. Properly warming up before exercise and cooling down helps to decrease tightening in the muscles after exercising. Also, maintaining a healthy weight to decrease stress on your joints, especially your knees. The holidays can be a perfect excuse to put on some “winter weight,” but reducing joint pressure that’s caused by your own body weight is another way to potentially reduce pain levels this winter.
- Improve Your Diet
There are a few essential vitamins that help to keep our bones healthy and muscles functioning. Including food sources such as eggs, fatty fish, mushrooms, and milk all support the health and functioning of your muscles and bones. As well, increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can help.
- Stay Hydrated
In the colder weather, you might not drink as much water as you do during the summer, but it’s still important. Drinking water can help keep your joints lubricated, which in turn can help reduce your pain level
Apply heating pads or taking warm water baths can with easing pain on tender areas. Heat helps relax your muscles and can be super effective when it is colder outside. Also, wearing compression garments or thermal agents may help.