Can you feel a dip in temperature before you even look at a thermometer?
Are your joints an uncomfortable weather prognosticator?
For many already dealing with conditions causing joint discomfort, cold weather seems to only make things worse.
Let’s dive into some reasons why your joints seem to bother you more during the winter, how you can keep joints warm, and what you can do to minimize and manage joint discomfort so you can enjoy the winter wonderland.
Your Joints Really Do Hurt More When It’s Cold Outside
You’re not going crazy.
Joints really do hurt more as temperatures take a dive. But why? Researchers and medical professionals actually have a couple of theories.
A physical therapist interviewed by Self noted that one theory surrounds the changes in barometric pressure that occur when it’s cold. These changes may result in an inflammatory response in your joints, and studies show this may result in circulation changes, potential nerve fiber sensitivity, swelling, and increased joint discomfort.
According to the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, the body naturally works to keep you warm. When cold temperatures arrive, the body often reroutes blood flow from the extremities to more essential organs in the body, such as the lungs and heart.
When the body conserves heat and reroutes blood flow, the blood vessels in the arms and legs constrict. This allows these areas to get colder, which may result in the discomfort you feel when it’s chilly.
Keeping Your Joints Warm When You’re Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Maybe your body isn’t doing as great of a job at keeping your joints warm, but there are things that you can do. While you can always move exercise and other activities indoors when it’s cold, but if you want to get out to enjoy the winter wonderland, here are a few ways to keep joints warm.
• Dress Warmly – Make sure you’re wearing warm clothing. Aching hands can be kept warm with thick gloves. Wear extra thick socks inside boots to keep feet warm. Add additional layers to your legs and knees, since extremities are more likely to get cold.
• Wear Layers – Wear plenty of layers, so you’re able to control your comfort level throughout the day. You can wear a couple pairs of gloves and peel layers off as needed. If you plan to be in the snow, adding snow pants or ski pants over pants and long underwear can offer extra protection for your joints against the cold.
• Warm Up Properly – Want to keep joints warm when exercising out in the cold? Make sure you warm up properly. Stretching and warming up not only helps limber everything before you get moving, but it gets your circulation going, which can keep joints warmer and reduce the risk of discomfort.
Tips for Reducing Discomfort to Make Winter More Enjoyable
Even if you do your best to keep joints warm, the cold temperatures can still leave you with increased joint discomfort. The good news – you don’t have to let cold weather ruin your winter. Try using these tips to reduce and manage joint inflammation and discomfort.
• Tip #1 – Stay Hydrated– When it’s chilly, it’s easier to forget about drinking water. Unfortunately, studies show that even being mildly dehydrated may make you more sensitive to pain. Make sure you’re still drinking enough water during the winter.
• Tip #2 – Exercise Indoors– Even if it’s too cold to exercise outside, individuals with joint discomfort need to stay active. One study found that function improves when you’re less sedentary, so exercise indoors if you must – just make sure you get moving.
• Tip #3 – Add Vitamin D – If your vitamin D levels are low, researchers have found that it can increase sensitivity within the joints. Vitamin D deficiencies also raise the risk for problems like low bone density. During the winter, you’re less likely to get enough vitamin D from the sun, so adding a supplement may help you manage joint discomfort more effectively.
• Tip #4 – Enjoy Warm Water – When cold weather makes joint discomfort worse, try enjoying some warm water. Exercising in a heated pool can sooth joints and offers an excellent way to stay active.
• Tip #5 – Indulge in a Massage – If you experience discomfort in your joints, in many cases it may come from the surrounding muscles. Research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that getting a massage weekly for eight weeks resulted in provided relief in individuals with knee discomfort. Indulging in weekly massages may be just the ticket to making your joints feel better this winter.
• Tip #6 – Get More Omega-3s – Omega-3s found in fish oil significantly reduced joint stiffness and tenderness when studied in individuals experiencing joint pain. You can get more omega-3s by adding more fish to your diets, such as salmon, shad, anchovies, sardines, and smelt. Another option is to begin taking a krill oil supplement to benefit the effects of omega-3 fatty acids even further.
Krill oil versus fish oil…is there a difference?? Click here to find out.
Yes, cold weather impacts your joints.
The good news: you can take measures to keep joints warm, and you can make a few changes to reduce and manage joint discomfort.
Baby, it’s cold outside. But with these tips, you can still get out and enjoy that winter wonderland.