Being a couch potato is bad news for your joints because exercise helps lubricate them to prevent pain.
By Dr.Shadman Pandit P.T
Almost all of us have heard friends or family say that they suffer from increased aches and pains in muscles and joints during winter, and some may have personal experience of this.
In winters that are now upon us, cold air brings lower barometric air pressure, unlike the weather we have had for the last couple of days. This means gas expands when heated and contracts when cooled, which lowers air temperature and causes the air to constrict, resulting in lower pressure. Well, this is the same effect on your muscles. They constrict and tighten.
Winter is linked to joint pain as people are less likely to work out when it’s chilly and damp. In colder weather, the body will conserve heat, and it will send more of the blood to the organs in the centre of the body, like the heart or the lungs. So when that happens, the arms, legs, shoulders, knee joints, those blood vessels will constrict. Less blood flow makes those areas colder and stiffer, which can cause discomfort and pain.
We hunch ourselves up when we are cold, making muscles tighter and less mobile. When it’s sunny, we have more exposure to vitamin D, which fortifies our bones and cartilage. It is seen that osteoarthritis patients with low levels of Vitamin D experience a worsening of their symptoms. The types of conditions and diseases often associated with ‘weather pain’ are indeed those that cause chronic pain in the muscles and joints. These include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, phantom limb pain, scar pain, gout, trigeminal neuralgia, and non-specific low back pain.
The most common when we’re more sedentary is the first couple of movements when we get up out of a chair or when we’re getting out of bed, which tends to be when it’s the sorest.
Packing up and moving somewhere with a warm, sunny climate is not the answer, although it can help temporarily. When you move to a warmer climate, you feel better for the first few months, ‘but then the body acclimates to that weather pattern, and you start feeling just like you did before.’ So don’t pack your bags just yet, but there are actions that you can take to help minimize aches and pains through the winter months.
The human body is built to move, and regular exercise is the best thing we can do for our general health. This is especially true for those who have arthritis and other painful conditions of the muscles and joints, though it is important to do a level of exercise that is appropriate for you. If you are already in pain, the idea of exercising may seem overwhelming, but a gentle movement of any kind is better than no movement at all.
Physical activity in winter can reduce winter aches and pains and enhance overall health benefits. Keep Moving. Too cold out? Bring your workout indoors, and don’t overdo it! Low impact activities like aerobics, weight training, and riding a stationary bicycle can reduce stiffness, increase blood flow, and support the knees. Thus, winter aches can be well managed by doing exercises.
If you get into a good stretching and warm-up routine and still notice pain in your joints, consult an Orthopedic or Physiotherapist to make sure you’re not injured. It is important to remember that pain in your body is a warning system, and you need to listen to it. Consistent joint pain could be the beginning signs of arthritis, and it is best to address it earlier.
Tips for preventing aches and pains in winters:
Pain is a protective mechanism to stop you from causing further damage, but the pain doesn’t always mean you should quit exercising altogether.
Remaining active is vital. Keeping moving will help keep your joints mobile and your muscles strong, which can reduce pain and help you stay independent.
If you’re new to exercise, don’t overdo it. Slowly build the amount you do. If you can’t manage 30 minutes, break it up into 10-minute. Make sure you warm up with a spot of fast walking or gentle jogging.
Whatever you choose, remember good posture. Every activity can be done differently, so think about which position put the least strain on your joints.
Diet also plays a vital role. Eating a balanced diet comprised of low saturated fat, lean proteins, more fibre, and refined carbs helps improve body functions during the winter.
Drinking water throughout the day helps to reduce winter aches and pains.
Vitamin D deficiency may worsen osteoarthritis. • It is essential to consume easily digestible foods like vegetables.
It is necessary to take a supplement vitamin D or ensure to make your diet is vitamin-D rich. Fish oil is a potent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Increase your intake of milk, a rich source of protein and calcium that help to strengthen the bones—exposing the body to sunlight help to obtain vitamin D.
Pain isn’t just a physical sensation, and it can also have emotional effects, making us feel upset and tired. Some people may also feel low during the winter months (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which can make pain feel worse. If you feel that you are not coping with pain or your mood, then reach out for help to your doctor. Taking physiotherapy sessions, amongst other options, can help.
The most common when we’re more sedentary is the first couple of movements when we get up out of a chair or when we’re getting out of bed, which tends to be when it’s the sorest. If your knee hurts, as you’ve been sitting on a chair for long, it’s a good idea just to move your knee. Bend your knee back and forth before you stand up. If you’re having trouble moving or gripping something with your hands, just open and close your hands a little bit before you actually go to grab something. It’s things like that, that will help our bodies get a little bit more active and less sore.
Winter is linked to joint pain as people are less likely to work out when it’s chilly and damp. In colder weather, the body will conserve heat, and it will send more of the blood to the organs in the centre of the body, like the heart or the lungs.
Arthritis, in general, can promote weakness because we tend not to move because we’re sore. As a physiotherapist, what we recommend is to try to strengthen those arthritic or stiff joints. The more we strengthen it, the muscles will take on the brute force, energy, of work that has to be done by that joint in that area so that the muscles tend to do more of the work than the rubbing of the two joint surfaces together.
Contact your physiotherapist for general strengthening exercises. You can be lazy, but you can still do this to keep your body in shape.
Dr.Shadman Pandit P.T (MPT(Neuro), MPT(Cardio), Consultant Physiotherapist) can be reached at Mobile No. 9149965711 email: [email protected]