Don’t let those joints get stiff in this cold weather!
Have you received prompts from your cellphones or wearable devices/activity trackers such as Fitbit, Apple watch to move around and walk?
My patients always complain that the cold weather makes it difficult for them to move, or they are in more pain and their muscles ache more than usual.
It is funny how we always blame the weather for those aches and pains.
I agree that our perception changes with the change in weather, and when the weather is damp, cloudy, or cold, we feel lazy. We tend to be less active compared to when it is sunny outside.
The reason for this feeling is because as it starts getting cold around us, our body starts rerouting blood to our internal organs and away from the extremities. That leads to stiff joints and muscles, resulting in aches and pains in joints.
In this situation, the best thing to do is get joints warmer to get more movements.
Staying in one position for too long is not suitable for anyone. That is why I suggest all my patients working from home keep moving every few minutes. I am sure; if you are wearing a smartwatch, it might remind you to move every few minutes.
1. Start your day with some gentle stretches and exercises:
The best way to start a day
Of course, the type of exercise might differ depending on how you feel but warming up before you start your day is the best way to get ready for the day. Most people I talk to complain of having the most pain in the morning when they wake up, and the reason behind this is that they slept in one position for too long, and when they wake up, their muscles are stiff.
The best way to start your day is with some easy gentle stretching, loosen up your body and prepare for the day.
2. Avoid staying in one place for too long
Move around every few minutes. If you are working on a desk all day, remind yourself to stand up and walk around, stretch back by twisting and turning, shrug your shoulders, move your neck to the sides to relax neck muscles.
3. Remind yourself to move
Staying in one position for too long is not healthy. You might have experienced a tight neck or stiffness behind your shoulder after sitting in one place for too long. It is advisable to remind yourself to change position. Also, do some easy stretches such as moving your neck to sides, rolling shoulders, twisting trunk, and so on…, every few minutes.
If you wear a wearable activity tracker that might remind you to move if it finds you inactive for some time.
4. Get into a habit of sitting with a better posture.
It is essential to be mindful of how you sit while doing your day-to-day activities. To avoid the neck pain or back pain, make sure to sit with a correct posture. If needed, use back support that will allow you to sit straight. Make sure to keep your head straight while looking at the computer and avoid slouching over. Adjust the monitor’s height, so you don’t have to look down or tilt your head while looking at it. If needed, zoom in or make fonts bigger to make it easier for you to read.
5. Take Hot Shower
When joints and muscles are stiff and are aching during cold weather, taking a hot shower is a great way to feel better. It will help you to have better mobility and less muscle tightness.
6. Use heating pads
If you have pain in any specific area, the hot shower is insufficient to relieve muscle aches. In that case, use a heating pad to warm up that particular area. A heating pad will help improve blood supply to that part and relax muscles and joints in that area.
Suppose you have aches and pains with any specific activities. In that case, whether it is cold or warm outside, it is essential to get it checked by your licensed physical therapist.
By talking to your physical therapist, you can better understand what is causing that pain. It will give you an idea of what you might need to do to reduce that pain.
We answer your questions and give you the best advice possible as per our expertise and allowed by the physical therapy scope of practice.
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