Winter and Body Pain: Is It the Cold - or Reduced Activity?
If you have arthritis or a precursor to arthritis, an injury, or are older, you are especially prone to feeling a bit more in the aches and pains department as the temperatures drop. Our joints tend to have less elasticity, and since we’re colder, we stiffen up.
But there’s another factor at play: movement. Many report that they feel stiffer or in more pain when they first start moving. For example, you may feel sore when you get out of bed or when you get up after watching a movie for a few hours.
Once you have warmed up, your joints, muscles, and ligaments have a chance to stretch out. Often, the best remedy is simply engaging in gentle movement. If you are having difficulty gripping something in your hands, for instance, open and close them several times. You’ll have a much easier time. Another example: if you’re sitting at the computer all day, you’re likely tense and stiff. Make a conscious effort to relax your shoulders and get up and move for a few minutes every hour or so.
Pain and discomfort can launch us into a cycle: we don’t want to move as much because we’re sore, but lack of activity worsens the problem.
Addressing Winter Weather and Body Pain Issues
So what can we do to keep our bodies feeling their best during the winter?
- Think about your posture. Poor posture can cause and worsen tightness, aches, and soreness. Instead of hunching over the computer or slouching on the couch, for example, imagine that there is a string on top of your head and someone’s pulling gently up. Lengthen your whole body, drop your shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades in a bit, pull in your abdominal muscles, and keep a straight, long back. This will go a long way in reducing upper body and back pain and discomfort.
- Break up sedentary activities with motion. Many of us work on computers or at desks all day. Take activity breaks to walk around, do a few standing or seated yoga moves, or sneak in a few strength training reps.
- Avoid winter weight gain. We know: easier said than done! But even five pounds extra can place a considerable amount of pressure on your joints. Stay active, and keep eating well.
- Stretch. Gentle stretching routines can help reduce symptoms and create more fluidity.
- Plan your winter workouts. If you can, layer up and go outside for a brisk walk, snowshoe, or cross country skiing adventure. If it’s too cold/snowy/icy/rainy, work out indoors. There are plenty of free fitness videos online to help you. Be sure to find workouts that align with your fitness level or that can be easily modified.
- Seek chiropractic care. This is a safe, effective, non-drug, non-invasive way to address pain and discomfort. The professionals at Beth EL Wellness & Chiropractic will create a personalized plan to help you reach your health and wellness goals.
If cold weather is causing an increase in pain symptoms, please contact Beth EL Wellness & Chiropractic. It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to winter, we are here to restore both health and hope!