With the colder weather drawing in here are our winter tips to help combat the impact the weather change may have on your joints.
Why does the cold weather affect my joint pain?
For many of us the cold weather is a factor to our pain pattern, with an increase in levels or frequency of pain experienced through the winter months. The exact reason for this occurrence is unknown; however here are some plausible theories.
1. Atmospheric pressure change
During winter months it is cold, damp and even wet. For this weather to occur changes undergo in the atmosphere. These changes are thought to cause an inflammatory effect within the joints, and signal our protective mechanism alarming the body of pain to prevent further tissue damage.
2. Muscle response
When it is cold our bodies lose more heat. To conserve heat in colder temperatures the blood flow to muscles decreases to reduce heat loss to our vital organs. However for this to happen our muscles contract to constrict their blood supply, causing tightness throughout our bodies and limitation in our joint range of motion. Lack of mobility and muscle tightness can give rise to joint pain.
3. Heat production
To generate heat when we’re cold we ‘shiver’. The shivering reflex happens to maintain homeostasis, in this instance to ensure a constant internal temperature is met. Shivering is created by sudden repeated muscle contraction and relaxation, the energy expended from this generates heat. This can lead to joint pain through the insertion and action of surrounding muscles on our joints.
What can I do to reduce my pain this winter?
Exercise, increases our heart rate and thus efficiency of our blood flow around our bodies to help keep us warm. Certain types of exercise i.e. strenuous exercise (individual to the person) will generate more heat to warm our bodies. Loading our joints with weight bearing exercise will aid our synovial fluid production.
Don’t forget your winter layers, whether you’re exercising or undergoing day to day activities. Helping our bodies to maintain our internal temperature by wearing plenty of warm clothes prevents our muscle response (see above) to the cold temperatures and reduces likelihood of shivering.
Plan your time! If you’re out in the cold have a purpose, whether you work outside or fancy a stroll taking in the winter scenery, be prepared to keep warm. Don’t stay out in the cold unnecessarily.
If you’re suffering from muscle tightness or joint pain this winter find out how Osteopathy can help.