Updated: Aug 22
With the temperatures dropping I’m beginning hear lots of stories of feeling stiff and achey. But is this normal?
Why do we start to ache more?
First of all, lets look at the changes we make. September often means a return to routines such as back to school or regular groups. The dropping temperatures and reduction in daylight hours also naturally draws us inside more. All these changes in activity, whether subtle or not, are bound to make our bodies feel different. In addition we often get caught out without enough layers at this time of year – when were cold we tense up and become stiff.
Then there’s the physiological changes that happen. Lower temperatures thicken the synovial fluid in your joints (the oil in our cogs!) making them harder to move. The next thing that happens when its cold is that the oxygen in your blood binds itself more tightly to the haemoglobin which makes it harder to get oxygen into your muscles. Coupled with the fact your blood supply to your muscles is also reduced in the cold (to maintain a good supply to the vital organs), this has a knock-on effect of stiffness. Inflammation and scar tissue in itself creates pain, but another effect of the cold weather is that our nerves become hypersensitive in these tissues. Vitamin D levels also drop in the winter months and this has also been linked to muscle and joint pain.
What can we do to overcome the aches & pains?
1. A good routine with exercises is really important - keeping our bodies moving will overcome those changes such as thickening of the synovial fluid and reduced blood supply.
2. Doing core strengthening exercise will keep muscles strong which offsets the pressure from your joints, and some gentle stretching which will alleviate tension in the muscles which can put pressure on pain receptors.
3. Keeping warm with plenty of layers and accessories will avoid the tensing up we experience and reduced blood supply to our muscles in cold weather.
4. Speak to a pharmacist or GP about vitamin D supplements to manage the effects of the colder weather.
5. Eat well. Whilst its tempting to load up on the calories when we feel cold, be careful to ensure that it’s a balanced plate, avoiding pro-inflammatory foods such as sugars. Secondly, remember also that any excess weight on our joints will hinder us further – so be careful to watch the portions too.
6. Staying hydrated will ensure that all of our bodies systems work efficiently.
The change of seasons needn’t mean aches and pains setting in, but if they do persist after taking these simple steps above seek help. There may be underlying inflammation and scar tissue contributing to hypersensitivity occurring which treatment will resolve, and sorting these issues sooner rather than later always has better and faster results.
Have questions or need help? Get in touch.