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Cold Weather Tips For Arthritis

The leaves are falling, crunching satisfyingly under foot and the nights are drawing in. For some the autumn and winter months are a thing of beauty but for those with arthritis it can mean an increase in pain. There is no definitive proof that links cold weather to an increase in aching joints, although barometric pressure, not dissimilar to what you experience on a plane, is one theory that holds some water. Here are some key tips to help you fend off the cold and keep those joints warm and moving.

Layer Up Loosely

One of the best ways of keeping the cold out and the warmth in is to dress up warmly. It sounds obvious but layers of clothes, worn loosely, can make a big difference. By wearing lots of loose layers you create pockets of air between them that is then heated by your body temperature. It essentially makes you your own personal radiator. Without the energy bills. Blankets You know all those throws and old blankets you never use? Now is the time to dig them out. The best way of looking at this is from a Scandinavian point of view. In an area of the world where cold is subzero, Scandinavian countries keep blankets everywhere. And they’re not just for your feet. They have them for their body, their hands, the whole lot. It means when you’re sitting in front of the television on a chilly night you can always wrap yourself up in a blanket, or five, and keep the cold out of your joints.

Blankets

You know all those throws and old blankets you never use? Now is the time to dig them out. The best way of looking at this is from a Scandinavian point of view. In an area of the world where cold is subzero, Scandinavian countries keep blankets everywhere. And they’re not just for your feet. They have them for their body, their hands, the whole lot. It means when you’re sitting in front of the television on a chilly night you can always wrap yourself up in a blanket, or five, and keep the cold out of your joints.

Spandex Gloves

If you are someone who has arthritis in your hands and fingers then these joints can be very painful in cold weather. One way around this is to use spandex gloves. They’re tight fitting which keeps fluids out of the joints which in turn help temper inflammation and therefore aches and pains. TightsYes, even for you gentlemen out there. There’s a reason you see those runner and cycler types going out in the freezing cold conditions wearing tights. It’s because they keep you nice and toasty, even if you are crazy enough to cycle to work in gale force winds. If they work for them think what they could do for your aching knees when you’re sitting at home. Like spandex gloves they are tight, hence the name, helping to prevent fluids building up in the joints.

Tights

Yes, even for you gentlemen out there. There’s a reason you see those runner and cycler types going out in the freezing cold conditions wearing tights. It’s because they keep you nice and toasty, even if you are crazy enough to cycle to work in gale force winds. If they work for them think what they could do for your aching knees when you’re sitting at home. Like spandex gloves they are tight, hence the name, helping to prevent fluids building up in the joints.

Keep Hydrated

You might be wondering what drinking plenty of water can do to help your arthritis pains in the cold but it can. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can heighten your pain receptors. Furthermore your joint cartilage is mostly made up of water, by staying hydrated you keep the cartilage full, allowing you to move better.

Exercise Inside

If you have arthritis it’s important to stay active as much as your body and the pain will allow. In the hotter months this might mean going for a walk around the block but in winter this is problematic due to the cold, unwelcoming conditions outside. The more you keep your joints moving the more they’ll remain as flexible as possible without seizing up.

Warm Water

It can, of course, be a warm bath to soothe those aching joints but even better is a well heated pool. The warm water will help the aches and pains while a gentle swim will get the joints moving. Just walking about in shallow water can be an excellent form of exercise. Just remember to be in a warm place when you get out of the water or you’ll undo all that good work on your joints.

Vitamin D

Lots of it. As the winter months creep in, and the days get shorter and the nights get longer, our exposure to vitamin D decreases. Our bodies uses UV light to synthesise vitamin D, so when the sun goes away for long nights we lose a key source of it. This is bad news if you have arthritis because research has shown that vitamin D is key to joint health. If you feel those joints aching more than usual this winter try eating food rich in vitamin D like certain mushrooms or egg yolks.

Massage

When the weather cools the joints can stiffen. A great way to counteract this is to spoil yourself with a massage. If you can handle it, a deep tissue Swedish massage can work wonders. The science behind this is sparse due to so few studies but the theory is that massaging the tissue relaxes the muscles around the joint allowing it to move more freely. Now you have an excuse.

Oily Fish

Recently we spoke to dietician Dr. Sarah Schenker who spoke at lengths about the importance of getting the right kind of fats in your diets. Many fats are derived from Omega 6 which can increase swelling agents in the body. But Omega 3 from things such as oily fish, like mackerel and salmon, can help reduce this swelling and in turn help you manage your pain levels. Do you have any cold weather tips or hacks for staving off joint pain?

Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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