We can all feel a bit under the weather during winter, especially once the excitement of Christmas is over. But is there anything we can do to reduce the effect of cold temperatures and wet weather on our bones until spring arrives?
Unfortunately, the medical profession still hasn’t come up with cures for coughs and colds and even a physiotherapist can’t work miracles, but we may be able to help relieve those aches, pains and creaking joints that often precede a cold snap or approaching rain.
Does bad weather really affect our joints?
The temperatures are dropping, and you’ve started getting that familiar old ache in your back or an old injury in a knee or shoulder joint; but are the two connected?
Aside from Granny’s anecdotal weather forecasting claims, there’s are no hard evidence to show a direct link between weather and painful joints. Some doctors, though, do believe that changes in air pressure could affect joints already sensitised by injury.
And other research has shown that even if patients fly south, like the birds, for the winter, chronic aches and pains don’t necessarily disappear. This may be because our bodies adjust to the climate we’re living in, so it’s not the cold that causes pain but relative changes in temperature and the weather.
That said, lower temperatures and levels of daylight can also affect people’s moods, some people experiencing a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and this can have serious consequences for your overall wellbeing, including chronic pain.
And living in an area that gets heavy snowfall can increase the risk of acquiring new joint problems if you slip on ice or put your back out while shovelling snow! So what can you do?
Six tips from Petersfield Physio for looking after your joints over Christmas
At Petersfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic, we advise clients who suffer from chronic joint aches or who have musculoskeletal injuries that there’s a lot they can do to help themselves:
- Keep warm. Granny knew best and there was a good reason why she always wrapped up well. If you’re prone to joint pains, make sure your house is warm enough and you wear plenty of clothes, especially around the affected part of your body.
- Focused stretches and massages. A lot of the pain comes from the muscles and tendons surrounding a damaged joint. A regular session with a physio can reduce muscle tension through stretching, movement exercises and massaging.
- Stay active. If you have to, exercise indoors.
- Lose weight. This is easier said than done over Christmas but reduced weight reduces the load on painful joints, and on the subject of eating…
- Eat healthily. Supplements such as fish oils and glucosamine supplement are thought to keep joints healthy.
- Warm bathing. Swimming is a good, low impact exercise and warm baths can also help soothe aching joints.
And don’t forget to stay safe during the bad weather; watch out for icy pavements and don’t overstrain your back when you’re shovelling snow off your drive, and have a safe, pain free and merry Christmas!
Post written in collaboration with Bill Blogs.