As the temperature drops near the end of each year, you might notice more aching joints. Maybe they hurt in an area of past injury or surgery. Colder weather may lead to flare ups in the joints of some people, especially the knees, ankles or hips, and it can be uncomfortable or painful.
While you may not be able to eliminate the pain completely, here are 4 tips to try and reduce it:
Use the Heater and Bundle Up
While we don’t know exactly why your joint hurts at this time of year, some experts think cold weather causes the body to try and conserve heat by sending more blood to the center organs, which constricts blood vessels in the outer limbs so they get stiff and inflamed.
Another theory is that a change in barometric pressure from the cold puts more pressure on joints.
Whatever the exact cause, staying warm, even when the outside weather is frightful, can help heat those areas up again:
- Stock your house with plenty of blankets and keep several layers of tights, leggings, gloves and mittens at the ready.
- Bring on the layers, whether you’re cozying in for the night or going out to explore.
- Utilize your indoor heating system when you’re at home. Or, if you have a fireplace, get some wood burning and enjoy a night in with loved ones and several of those handy blankets.
- Warm up your car by starting it a few minutes before you leave.
Take Your Vitamins
Although this joyous season is full of treats and decadent eats, don’t throw nutrition out the window completely. Work to maintain a balance of healthy foods in each meal or snack, and consider important nutrients to support joint pain:
- Vitamin D: Research shows that low levels of vitamin D may contribute to more joint pain. And since sunlight is a source of vitamin D, you’re less likely to get enough during the winter months and you might need more than usual.
- Magnesium: People with chronic joint pain may have very low levels of magnesium, according to the National Institutes of Health, so increasing levels may be helpful.
- Herbal supplements for joint support can be helpful, as well. Some of the top ones include glucosamine, turmeric, bromelain and alfalfa herb.
Another benefit of eating well during cold weather months is weight management. Losing weight can largely improve knee arthritis pain, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
If your joints hurt, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. But staying active year round can actually help keep your joints warm and reduce the chances of flare-ups.
Use a home treadmill or exercise bike if you have it, or do some yoga. For exercise outside the home, utilize local yoga glasses, gyms or heated pools nearby.
Whatever you do, be sure to warm up first! A proper warm up and stretch helps you stay warm and limber, preventing further pain, stiffness or injuries.
Breathe and Give It Time
The good news with most seasonal joint pain is that it’s usually temporary. If your joints hurt mostly when it’s cold, you’ll likely have relief once the warmer weather starts making its appearance again.
Until then, use the above tips to stay warm, stay healthy, keep moving and focus on the positives of the winter and holiday season as much as you can!