We’ve all heard of people who claim that they can feel the weather in their bones, or whose joints ache before the rain sets in. As cliché as these age-old sayings may be, many scientists now believe that there is an observable effect of the weather on our bodies. So as the winter sets in and the weather takes a turn for the colder, we’re going to look at how the winter months can impact joint pain.
When we think of winter, the first things that come to mind are probably the wind, rain, and cold. But when it comes to joint pain in the winter, scientists have found that it is barometric pressure that we should be most concerned about.
When barometric pressure drops, the result is often an influx of wind, followed by rain. But while most of us may not notice it, barometric pressure also has a much more direct effect on our bodies. When air pressure is low, there is literally less pressure pushing against our bodies. The result of this is that our tissues have more freedom to expand, and if they expand too much, we experience joint pain.
One study showed that two-thirds of people living with chronic joint pain report that the weather has a direct effect on their level of pain. Unfortunately, there are no easy-fixes to this problem. It may be worth investing in a barometer to give yourself some idea of how pressure could be affecting your pain, but apart from that, scientists recommend increasing your pain medication, wrapping up warm, and wearing tight clothing to replace the lost pressure on your body.
Even though it impacts so many different parts of our health, one thing you rarely hear people have a conversation about is the importance of staying active in the winter. With colder weather and fewer daylight hours, people spend much more of their time indoors during the winter. This affects us in many ways. It is believed this is why the cold is so common, as people spend more time indoors with the windows closed. It also contributes to the weight gain associated with the winter and Christmas season. And of course, it contributes to joint pain.
Apart from the fact that the cold weather will already cause your joints to shrink and stiffen, spending more time indoors and sedentary means your joints will be moving considerably less than if you were out and about. This can lead to a noticeable stiffness after just a few days, and this stiffness and pain only becomes more cemented the longer you spend stationary.
While going out in winter isn’t always an option, you should make an effort to move around as much as possible while indoors. More important still is to make sure you vary those movements. Walking around the house or up and down stairs may help, but if there is noticeably more pain in the winter, you may find that yoga or other simple exercises can make a much bigger difference. Fortunately, these days you can find tutorials on YouTube for every exercise and body part, making it easy to find a routine that works for you. Since there is no way for you to counter the effects of barometric pressure, this is certainly an option worth looking into.
If your joint pain is more than just a slight discomfort, or has not previously been examined, you should visit a physiotherapist to ensure that there are no underlying issues.
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