Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
As the mercury dips, you see it in the thermometer but those with joint pains tell better.
Have you heard about the common belief that people with joint problems can tell you how cold it is outside? Well, winter does mean increased joint pains for many. Are you one of those people? Does cold weather mean aggravated joint pains and stiffness for you?
It is a known fact that when it gets cold, the joints become stiff and all those who have ever suffered with any old bony injuries or fractures complain of increase in pain. Although the change in the weather cannot cause joint related ailments like arthritis or frozen shoulder, it can worsen the joint pains and stiffness. Joint problems can be really painful and can disrupt your normal routine, therefore, it is really important to know all about it to deal with it better.
What causes joint pains in winters?
The logic behind the increase in pains during winters is related to the changes in the air pressure. To add to this, blood circulation becomes limited due to lack of physical activity, as most of our time is spent cozying up in our blankets. It has also been found that during winters there is lesser blood circulation in the peripheral areas which further results in body aches and stiffer joints. The decreased atmospheric pressure in winters causes the tissues to expand. Such tissue expansions put more pressure on the nerves that control the pain signals which can cause joint pains.
Another reason is that our body wants to keep us warm and protected naturally. Thus, when cold weather strikes most of the blood flow is rerouted from our limbs to our important organs (heart and lungs). This takes the warmth away from our joints and can lead to several joint problems.
If you have had any injury/ fracture in recent times, the cold weather will cause vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels) around the area of injury making you feel the tightness and stiffness with added pain.
What to expect if you already suffer from joint problems?
If you are already in the group of people who have pain somewhere in the body or have had a bony or muscular injury in the recent past then the symptoms might increase. You might be at a constant discomfort. Joint pains might increase with the dip in outside temperature.
Normal day to day activities can seem like a challenge in this weather. Basic activities like changing positions between standing and sitting can seem like a mammoth task, as the weight-bearing joints are really sensitive during winters. Inability to perform activities of day to day might become very difficult.
Pains can get severe during the nights and in the mornings you may be faced with the problem of stiff joints.
What can be done?
Winter season comes every year. In some parts of the country, it can be for just a few days whereas other parts experience winters from November to February end. These four months can mean joint pains, muscle stiffness and constant discomfort for many of us. Our poor lifestyle choices only adds to the agony.
It is wiser to prepare, in order to save ourselves from the wrath of this weather. Our primary focus should be on making small still important dietary and lifestyle changes will not only make us strong from within but will also increase our flexibility.
Dietary tips for healthy joints
Below are some smart ideas to inculcate in our regular diet which can help us prepare our body to fight the harsh winters and will make us healthier:
- Eat a balanced diet: Shedding off those extra kilos is always a smart idea, a well balanced and healthy meal is the first step towards a more healthier you. Include nuts and healthy oils (olive oil, walnut oil, canola oil) in your diet as they lubricate your joints.
- Drink plenty of water: Water solves most of the health problems. Staying hydrated increases flexibility which can reduce the chances of injury and muscle tensions.
- Include fish oil: Fish oil is rich in omega 3 acids which can help decrease inflammation and bring relief to joint problems.
- Include Vitamin K: Make meals that have lots of greens, spinach, methi (fenugreek leaves), peas, radish, sarson ka saag are good for health and have pain-soothing properties.
- Include Vitamin C: Add color to your diet with juicy oranges, bright kinos, tomatoes, amlas, lemon and other vitamin C rich foods to reduce cartilage loss and reduced muscle pains.
- Intake Vitamin D: Lesser exposure to sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiency in winters which makes you more susceptible to joints pains. Include fish, eggs and dairy products to increase vitamin D intake in your daily diet.
Stay Active Stay Pain-free
During winters the body automatically becomes lazy and wants to stay warm. All of us love to stay indoors snuggled up in our blankets. But we have to realise that exercise is really important as staying physically active will keep the joints mobile and moving, keeping stiffness at bay. Various interesting and fun indoor regimes can be planned for winters. Some fun yet healthy tips to stay active and keep your joints healthy and mobile during winters are:
- Take up an aerobics or yoga- you can use youtube to see an aerobic workout and follow some simple yoga asans to keep the body active.
- Try zumba- If you are a little too lazy to go out for a jog or walk then put some good music on and start shaking your legs indoors. Zumba is an energetic dance routine which will keep your body supple, flexible and active, it will even lighten your mood as everybody loves dancing.
- Leg lifts- Various leg lifts and stretches can strengthen the quadriceps and you can do these easy lifts while watching your favorite TV show.
- Try non-weight bearing exercises- Static jog or hopping is always a smart idea.
- Try stretching- Include Stretches in your regular regime as stretching helps you maintain your mobility. Try stretching your neck, back, shoulders, knees, and ankles as frequently as possible.
- Household chores- Continue doing all your household chores like dusting and cleaning as it too keeps your body active and joints flexible.
- Play with kids- Take out time and play around the house with your children and grandchildren. It will keep you physically active and will add to your mental peace.
Keeping yourself active and healthy is the key to fighting pains this winters. The more you stay lazy and relaxed or couched up in your bed the stiffer your joints would get and make you more miserable.
So this winters stay active and fight rather than succumbing to the joint problems.
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