Cold Weather and Joint Pain
It’s not uncommon to see an increase in joint and muscle pain during the winter months but do you know why this occurs? Read on to learn how the weather can affect our bodies, how to relieve aches and pains during the wintertime, and more.
How does the weather affect my body?
Believe it or not, your external environment (including the weather) can actually have a huge effect on your joints. It’s common to hear people complain of aches and pains when the temperature starts dropping but do you know why? Well, there are a few explanations why the cold weather can affect us in sometimes the worst ways.
Barometric pressure is the measurement of air pressure within our atmosphere. Barometric pressure changes every day, but it drops once it gets cold outside. So, why is this relevant to pain and aches? Changes in the atmosphere’s barometric pressure can affect people with joint pain, specifically arthritis, because the nerves in the bones can pick up on changes in pressure. With healthy joints, there is cartilage between the bones to cushion the joints but when dealing with arthritis, this cartilage is broken down and no longer protects the joints. Shifts in barometric pressure can even cause your muscles and tendons to contract and expand which can also cause pain in joints low on cartilage. It’s also been found that when the barometric pressure drops, our hips, knees, hands, shoulders, and elbows can swell which irritates the nerves and causes pain.
When it’s cold outside, most of us tend to stay in the comfort of our homes to avoid the harsh weather. But this may not be the best idea for those suspectable to body pains and aches. When you’re not active, you’re likely to experience aches and tension due to weakened muscles. This is because when you exercise and move around, you’re stimulating the blood flow to your tissues. This is what helps to keep your muscles healthy. When you’re sitting on your couch for too long to avoid the cold (don’t worry, we’re all guilty of this.), your muscles are weakening which can cause soreness from doing everyday activities such as picking up a box. On top of this, our muscles tense up in the freezing weather and don’t have as much movement. In the warmth, our joints, muscles, and tendons have more stretch and elasticity. Our bodies naturally produce this warmth when we’re active.
Low temperatures can also cause changes to our blood flow. This is because when the temperatures dip, our body reroutes blood flow from our extremities to our organs to help keep us warm. While this is effective in keeping us warm, it’s not always the best for our joints because it’s taking away that warmth from them and can cause aches.
How to lessen joint pain in the winter
Even though it’s common to deal with increased aches and pains during the colder months, that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. There are several ways to decrease pain, even when it’s freezing outside:
· Bundle up! As previously mentioned, the cold air can cause your muscles and tendons to stiffen up which in turn, leads to soreness. If you’re bracing the cold, make sure to dress warm in layers to lessen the shock of the cold weather on your body. When you’re inside, try taking warm showers and use a heated blanket at night to keep your body warm.
· Get active. Even though it’s cold outside, that doesn’t mean you should avoid exercising. Staying active increases your blood flow, which helps with joint pain and strengthening your muscles. Activity can also reduce stiffness in your joints and maintain mobility to reduce the chance of injury. If you do decide to take your activities outside, make sure to stretch beforehand to loosen stiff joints.
· Don’t strain. While it’s important to get exercise, it’s equally as important to avoid straining yourself. Your muscles and tendons are stiffer in winter which means it’s easier to pull a muscle and hurt yourself. If you feel like you’re having a hard time completing a task, ask someone to help you instead of hurting yourself! You’ll thank yourself later.
· Stay healthy. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating a balanced diet can make a huge difference. While weight gain during the winter is common due to inactivity, added weight puts stress on painful joints such as the knees. Even a small amount of weight gain can cause a noticeable difference on your joint pain.
· Use heat to your advantage. On top of taking warm showers and layering up, try using a heating pad or hot patch to relieve aches and pains. The SinSinPas Hot Patches utilize heat therapy to lessen aches and pains in muscles and joints. Not only do these hot patches help to relieve pain immediately, they also provide long-lasting pain relief! Hot patches can be applied to any troubled area of your body for targeted relief which makes them perfect for wintertime joint pain.
· Calm your mind. During the winter months, a lot of people can feel mentally down which leads to us to focus on body aches and pains more than usual. Make sure to practice self-care by doing the things that make you happy and take your mind off of any pain you may be experiencing. Remember, your mental health is closely tied to the way your body feels so don’t forget to take some time during your week to focus on you.
· Up your water intake. People tend to drink more during the summer when in fact, you should be hydrating just as much during the winter! This is because the dry winter air can dehydrate you and make you ache and feel fatigued. Make sure to drink at least 15 cups of water per day if you’re a man and 11 cups per day if you’re a woman.
Wintertime aches and pains can happen to almost anyone, especially as you start to age. This means that pain relief products can come in handy and are a great gift idea for just about anyone. If you’re stuck on what to gift your loved ones for the upcoming winter holidays, SinSinPas pain relief products are a great option. Not only will your loved ones thank you for it, their bodies will too!