By Caitlin Hunt
Winter has almost arrived Perth, and is anyone else’s joints and muscles feeling the cold? It’s common for patients to report sore muscles and aching joints as the cold weather starts to come in. Considering our recent freezing cold Perth mornings and evenings, this has been evident! It’s even harder to get our muscles warm given the restrictions in place at the moment, so it’s important we all know how to take care of our bodies during these cold periods.
A published study in the journal ‘Influence of Weather on Report of Pain’ (Jamison, 1996) reported that with extreme weather changes (including changes of season) found pain is one of your body’s natural ways of adapting to changes in environment. The pain response has to do with both the change in temperature and the change in humidity.
Your muscles expand due to the increase in humidity, and contract when it is less humid. This contracting and lengthening is what can affect your pain levels.
Our top tips for beating that pain factor in the colder weather:
Try to engage in a longer warm up before you get moving for the day. Check out our sunrise stretches for a great option to start your day the right way, they’re one of the best things you can do to reduce muscle soreness.
Wear thermal compression clothing
I am a big believer of the phrase: ‘there is no such thing as inappropriate weather for exercising, just inappropriate clothing.’ Appropriate clothing will keep your body warm and allow your muscles to do what they do best, while you move.
After you have finished your exercise, reduce your heartrate by having a really good stretch! Not only will this allow for optimal recovery of your muscles, but will also release any tension in your muscles that may have occurred during exercise.
We all know that feeling of being cold to the bone. Your muscles will be in a state of tightness from the weather conditions so have a warm shower or bath to warm your body. Alternatively, put a heat pack on those painful areas to encourage your muscles to relax.
Sometimes when you are sore, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising. However if you do some gentle pain free movement and stretches you will find that the joint and muscles will warm, and the pain levels decrease. If you are sore from exercising from the previous day, do some light bodyweight movements similar to the exercises that made you sore. This will help with muscle recovery and pain reduction.
This is the often-neglected secret ingredient to achieving optimum health. Do not underestimate the power of sleep, mobility, a day off every now and then, good nutrition and hydration. You have to put good deposits into your “body bank” to allow for withdrawals.
Our best advice to keep your muscles in their best state is to keep moving and exercising to a capability that you enjoy and to a level that agrees with your body. We are all built differently and as you age your body will change the way it responds to exercise. Always listen to it, but don’t stop moving! Find an alternative that you enjoy and vary your exercise routines – allowing for recovery to keep your body in top shape and pain free through these cooler months!
Jamison, R., 1996. Influence of Weather on Report of Pain. International Association for the Study of Pain®, [online] Available at: <https://farabloc.com/PDFFILES/Influence%20of%20Weather%20on%20Report%20of%20Pain.pdf> [Accessed 11 May 2020].