Why do my joints ache more in winter?

"I love Christmas but I hate the cold!"

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The cold weather seems to play havoc with our joints! Generally I tend to see a lot more people during the winter month complaining their aches and pain are heightened during the winter season. Especially arthritis sufferers and those with inflammatory issues.

Although cold weather joint pain can effect any joint, it's more common in weight baring joints such as the hips, knees and ankles. This is especially true in populations who spend more time outdoors exercising (i.e runners).

“But what causes cold weather joint pains?”

When the temperature is lower your body conserves heat and as a protective mechanism sends more blood flow to vital organs such as the heart, lungs and stomach. With more blood flow in the core of the body, less is available in the extremities (hands and feet) due to a constriction in blood vessels meaning these areas decrease in heat and become stiffer. As well as this, when it is "cold out" there is a change in atmospheric pressure causing a inflammatory response within the joints.

"How can I prevent cold weather joint pain?"

Stay warm! This includes warming your muscles before activity which is important to prevent stiffness from developing into something more sinister. So if you're planning on going out for a run, training in the gym or even taking the dog for a walk. Make sure your body temperature is sufficient and you have increased your heart rate to the appropriate level. Along side this, for example, if you stop mid way through a run or exercise, be mindful that your joints and muscles may begin to stiffen. Simple dynamic exercises before you continue your training will help combat this.

It may go without saying but...wear a hat and gloves while out in the cold! Keeping heat within your extremities will maintain healthy blood flow to the regions and help prevent stiffness within the area.

So to summarise;

  • Warm up before activity
  • Use dynamic exercises during pauses in your training sessions
  • Wrap up warm!


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