Arthritis and cold weather – two things that don’t pair well. If you suffer from arthritis, you’re all too familiar with the additional pain cold weather brings.Unfortunately, both inflammatory and noninflammatory types of arthritis are affected by temperature. But your quality of life doesn’t have to suffer.
Warm Your Joints
When the temperature drops, you have to find ways to keep your joints warm. If you’re heading outside, layer up! You can always remove the extra jacket or pair of socks if you get too warm. Better for your joints to be too warm than too cold!
Another option to warm your joints is taking a dip in a heated pool or hot tub. Don’t have a gym or spa membership? A warm shower or bath at home will also do the trick.
Try Compression Gloves
These compression gloves encourage increased blood flow to your joints by applying pressure.
You can even wear them under your favorite pair of winter gloves or mittens for extra warmth.
Choose the Right Footwear
While it might be tempting to go to the mailbox in your house shoes, it’s better for your joints to choose safety over convenience. In the ice and snow, tread matters. Your best choice is tall boots with a thick, rubber tread that will give you the warmth and traction you need to tromp through the snow without slipping.
Research has also shown that just slightly bending at the knees when walking on slick surfaces helps improve balance.
Avoid Risky Landscapes
The best thing to do when winter brings you ice or snow is to avoid landscapes that are more likely to result in slipping. Outdoor steps can be particularly dangerous.
Avoid places where the elements are most likely to build up whenever possible.
Your joints will thank you for keeping them protected.
Use Tools to Reduce Joint Pain
There are tons of tools available to help with daily tasks that contribute to joint pain. From ergonomic desk chairs and keyboards to electric can openers, don’t make yourself be in more pain than you have to be.
Take advantage of the many gadgets on the market designed just for joint pain sufferers.
Skip Activities that Require a Prolonged Grip
On extra cold winter days, you may want to reschedule your trip to the market. Activities that require a prolonged grip like pushing a cart or carrying a grocery basket will add tension to your already stiff joints.
Don’t forget that arthritis and cold weather result in already painful activities becoming even more difficult. Best to schedule those tasks on less frigid days.
It’s hard to get motivated to be active when it’s cold, but your joints need to get movement.
Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week to get your heart rate up, plus a couple of low-impact strength training if you can (as long as your doctor hasn’t restricted your activity for other health reasons).
Exercise will not only keep your joints from getting stiff but will also maintain stable muscles, which better support your joints.
Consider Your Timing When Getting Active
Before you start exercising or doing housework as soon as your feet hit the ground in the morning, take some time to let your joints loosen up.
Your body needs to stretch and move around for a bit before putting too much pressure on your joints.
Even with low-impact exercise, don’t underestimate the importance of warming up.
Don’t Skimp on Water Intake
People often forget about the role water plays in our bodies during the winter months. Water intake is normally a hot weather tip, but it’s equally key in cold weather. Your joints cannot stay healthy without water.
If your body becomes dehydrated, your cartilage becomes stiff and loses its spongy-texture. This creates unnecessary friction in your joints, leading to increased pain.
Avoid Too Many Sugary Drinks
Drinks like tea and coffee are go-to’s to help us warm ourselves up, and these drinks are okay in moderation. But if you add sugar to your hot beverage, you may increase joint pain caused by inflammation.
Avoid drinks with high sugar content, like soda, completely if you are experiencing significant joint pain this winter.
Take Fish Oil
The Arthritis Foundation recommends trying fish oil supplements as they provide Omega-3 fatty acids, which may decrease joint pain caused by inflammation.
You can take up to 2.6 grams of fish oil two times daily, but you’ll want to consult your doctor before you add fish oil to your diet.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is easy to get enough of during the spring and summer when sunshine is plentiful. But people often develop a vitamin D deficiency during the winter. Some people find that their joint pain is worse when this happens.
To avoid becoming vitamin D deficient, try to get 600 IU daily either through supplements or fortified cereals.
Be Mindful of Weight on Joints
Winter is a natural time to put on some extra weight. The cold forces us to stay indoors where we have limited options, so we eat more than we would at other times. We comfort eat through the winter blues, but it’s the worst time for our joints to have to support the extra weight.
Because of this, it’s important to be mindful of increased weight during the cold winter months to reduce joint pain.
Get the Right Amount of Rest
You can’t hibernate the cold winter joint pain away, but you should be getting enough rest. Rest is essential to controlling your joint pain. Be sure you’re getting not just enough sleep at night, but also resting throughout the day.
Take time to give your joints a break after long periods of activity or after particularly demanding tasks.
Though you’ll have to take some extra precautions during the cold winter months, you don’t have to live in pain.
Keep your joints hydrated and healthy through diet and exercise and don’t let your body get too cold.
Remember that it’s okay to change your schedule to prevent unnecessary joint pain!
Make taking care of your body your number one priority all year round, but especially during the trying winter months.