7 Tips for Protecting Your Joints This Winter

Some people say they can predict rain by the pain in their joints, but that’s not the only link between weather and your joints. Cold temperatures also lead to joint problems.

Though winter is more likely to bother your joints if you have arthritis, people with healthy joints are also vulnerable to winter joint problems. 

At iMed Regeneration Center, we frequently help patients whose joint pain and stiffness is worse in winter, so we put together these tips to help you prevent similar problems.

How cold weather affects your joints

Cold weather can affect your joints several ways:

Muscles stiffen in the cold

If you’ve ever suffered an injury, you know that cold therapy is one of the first treatments to slow down inflammation and swelling. This therapy works well because cold temperatures make blood vessels tighten.

The same principle applies to the muscles and ligaments supporting your joints. When these tissues tighten due to the cold, your joint movement is limited. Using the joint with stiff muscles causes pain and also affects stress loading through the joint, increasing your risk of an injury.

Joints respond to air pressure

Your joints have sensory nerves that detect atmospheric pressure. As pressure in the air changes due to the weather, your joints also change. The amount of fluid and the pressure inside the joint fluctuates along with the outside pressure.

When air pressure drops in cold weather, it may increase swelling and pain in your joints. If you have arthritis, you’re more likely to notice these changes because you have less cartilage. That means the nerves are more exposed to environmental changes.

Blood flow drops

In cold weather, your body protects organs by rerouting some of your blood away from your arms and legs and into your core. A slight difference in blood flow affects your joints.

Joint fluid thickens

Cold temperatures thicken the fluids that normally lubricate your joints and support smooth movement.

Exercise decreases

You may enjoy winter sports, but many people spend more time indoors and less active in the winter. Lack of movement is the best way to end up with joint stiffness and pain.

7 tips to protect your joints

Whether your joints are healthy, arthritic, inflamed, or injured, they need extra care during the cold winter months. These seven tips go a long way toward maintaining pain-free joints.

Warm up before moving

Warming up is always important before you exercise or start athletic activities. But you can also reduce or prevent joint pain by warming up before you get out of bed or get up from sitting. Gently stretch your arms and legs, and move your knee, ankle, elbow, and wrist joints before you move.

Stay active

Low impact activities like walking, cycling, and swimming are the key to boosting blood flow and keeping away joint stiffness and pain.

Use heat to counteract the cold

Relieve joint pain and improve mobility by applying a heating pad, soaking in a warm bath, or taking a dip in a heated pool.

Get a massage

The hands-on techniques used during a massage relax your muscles, increase circulation, improve range of motion, and generally help you feel better. Moderate pressure during a massage also triggers the release of neurochemicals that fight pain and improve your mood.

Stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes

If you go outside to exercise or enjoy winter activities, remember that your body uses more energy when you’re active in cold weather. If you overexert yourself, you can quickly develop muscle fatigue that affects your joints.

Cold weather doesn’t protect you from dehydration. And if you’re dehydrated, it’s harder for your body to maintain its core temperature. Support your body’s energy needs and keep your muscles working properly by replenishing fluids and electrolytes.

Dress warmly

Wear clothing that keeps you warm when you go outside in winter. Dress in layers so you can easily adjust to changes in temperature.

Get preventive chiropractic care

Regular appointments for preventive chiropractic care keep your joints and your whole body in optimal shape. During your chiropractic visit, you can also get tips for exercises that maintain healthy joints and learn how to change your eating plan to include anti-inflammatory foods.

If you have any questions about protecting your joints in winter, call us at iMed Regeneration Center or book an appointment using our online tool.

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