As the days get shorter and colder, many people are less active. We experience stiffness in our joints and pain may develop, especially for those who have arthritis.
Complaints of joint pain increase when the weather is colder because the blood doesn’t circulate to the extremities as well; pain receptors are also more sensitive during this time.
While evidence is a bit conflicting, some believe a drop in barometric pressure, such as just before a snow or rain storm, may cause inflamed tissues to expand and become more painful.
The joints need a little extra care during this time of year to keep them limber and pain-free.
Healthy foods that support healthy joints
Diet plays an important role in keeping joints healthy and limber. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help curb inflammation and reduce joint pain.
Eating plenty of antioxidant rich foods like dark, leafy greens as well as vividly colored fruits and vegetables; consuming green tea and foods that are packed with omega-3 fatty acids such as wild-caught salmon and almonds, are all beneficial.
Include lots of onion and garlic in your meals as both are considered potent anti-inflammatory foods. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars which can worsen inflammation and contribute to joint problems as well as a host of other health issues.
It’s more important than ever to keep active in order to keep the joints limber and maintain good health. While you might be tempted to stay on the couch when cold weather hits, this is the worst thing you can do for your joints as well as your overall health and well-being. Studies have shown that when the weather is wetter and colder, people are significantly more sedentary.
If it’s too cold outside, just bring your workout indoors. There are numerous videos and smartphone apps that can help you find the right workout to meet your needs. If you have joint problems, it’s important to choose low-impact activities like yoga or tai chi, which can improve your range of motion. Weight lifting is also beneficial as it helps to strengthen muscles that support the joints.
Range-of-motion stretches can help improve joint flexibility to keep the joints limber all year long. With each stretch, the muscles and tendons that support the joint lengthen, which usually allows the joint to move a little further.
It is generally recommended to hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, keeping the muscles and joints still, without bouncing, in order to prevent injury. Stretch to the point where a slight tightness is felt in the muscles, but never to the point of pain. Each time you perform the stretch, you may be able to stretch a bit further as joint flexibility increases.
A study coordinated by the University of Utah School of Medicine found that taking a combination of 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin may help ease joint pain by increasing lubrication and nourishing cartilage in the joints. Due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, taking a fish oil supplement may also help to support healthier joints.
Following a nutritious diet, exercising and taking care of your health can significantly diminish the chance of developing all types of chronic illness and disease, while reducing pain and enhancing quality of life!