In New England, we all used to the throes of winter’s cold weather. Many of us have begun our winter training, and others of us settle in for the winter. But many of our patients often ask us, Why do my aches and pain increase in the cold? Whether you have chronic condition or long standing orthopedic problem, weather often magnifies your discomfort. In absence of absolute scientific proof, several discussions upon research provide proposed explanations for this cause, from barometric pressure, to decrease in blood flow to joints and elasticity of muscles and tendons, and even seasonal affective disorder may influence your perception of pain.
Decreased activity in the winter months contributes as well to increased risk for stiffness and joint pain.
It is absolutely true, that when it’s cold outside, it is more difficult for blood to circulate to our extremities, which can result in our pain receptors often times becoming more sensitive. Often times our conditions may not entirely be exacerbated but our nervous system may perceive the discomfort more intensely.
What can you do?
- Fight the urge to hibernate and move more in the winter months
- Get regular massage therapy to stimulate the nervous system to reduce inflammation and increase blood flow.
- To address pain and increase flexibility
- Consider doing warm-ups, like arm circles, knee ups before going outside into the cold.
- Consider eating foods rich in Vitamin K and Vitamin C.
- Dress in several layers before going out doors to allow for a progressive warm-up