Ways to Keep Your Joints Safe in Winter
Winter months bring cold weather, along with more frequent joint aches and pains. It’s not just your imagination, either. Cold weather actually thickens synovial fluid – the fluid that cushions your joints – and when its consistency thickens, joints can become stiff and achy. A drop in barometric pressure frequently accompanies cold weather, too, and that causes the tissues in your joints to expand and cause – you guessed it – aches and stiffness.
Cold weather can also be the enemy of some activities that make joints feel better, things like frequent exercise and stretching. In fact, the urge to cuddle under a warm blanket for an entire afternoon may be one of the worst things you can do for your stiff joints this winter.
Instead of retreating to the comfort of your couch, here are a few things you can do this winter to keep your joints well-lubricated, flexible, and as pain-free as possible.
Dress for the weather
There’s a Swedish expression, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” that is perfectly applicable there. Simply put, dress for the weather. When it’s cold outside, dress appropriately so you stay warm but don’t overheat or put extra stress on your joints from bulky clothing or tight shoes. Choose lightweight fabrics and wear layers to adjust your clothing as needed throughout the day, depending on how warm or cool it is outside.
Do your stretches
Stretching before any activity will help to prepare the synovial fluid and the soft tissues in your joints for the movement to come. Stretching is always helpful, but it’s even more important when our bodies are cold, and muscles need more time to transition from an inactive to an active state. Take a couple of minutes to stretch your back, neck, arms, and legs before you head outside to shovel the driveway or take the dog for a walk.
Just like any other time of year, staying hydrated during the winter months is critical to lubricate stiff joints and help flush toxins out of the body. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body functioning optimally.
Eat healthy food
Of course, eating nutrient-rich foods is essential for healthy joints year-round, but it’s especially important during wintertime when your body requires extra nourishment. Adding healthy fats to your diet, such as olive oil or avocado oil, provides essential vitamins and minerals and literally will help lubricate stiff joints. Eating plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will help reduce inflammation in the body, which can also improve joint comfort.
Protect your joints from injury
Winter weather can bring ice and slippery surfaces which naturally increase the risk of falls. Wear appropriate supportive shoes with good grip, use handrails when available, and take extra care when walking in icy conditions.
If you find yourself dealing with aches, pains or injuries this winter – or want to be sure you’re able to manage the cold weather and stay active – you might also want to consider a visit to a specialist at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.
Since 1972, our specialists have been committed to providing exceptional orthopaedic care through innovative techniques, quality services, patient communication, and education. With specialties ranging from general orthopaedics and physical therapy to sports medicine and more, the doctors at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine can provide local expert guidance on when and if knee replacement surgery may be the appropriate next step to managing your knee pain. Click here today to schedule an appointment.