Wintertime brings its own brand of aches and pains
tips to avoid pain in cold weather
From Matt DeMargel
The Joint Clinic Locals are flocking to doctors in our area with aches, pains and injuries from the frigid weather we’ve been having. The big chill has meant big pain for thousands who deal with flareups of back pain, joint pain and headaches. Almost one in four Americans has joint pain. And almost half of American adults will suffer from headaches this year.
The cold makes pain worse causing:
• Aches in weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, and ankles.
• Sciatica – leg pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.
Local chiropractors at The Joint Clinic suggest three tips to avoid pain in cold weather and offer noninvasive, drug-free manipulations that offer pain relief. We invite you to come to our clinic or we will come to you with props to demonstrate tips and stretches to help prevent pain. We will perform the “Stress Ball Demonstration”: There’s no solid evidence as to why folks feel worse in cold weather. However, frequent exposure to low temps causes muscle aches and pains because of prolonged shivering. Plus, in cold weather, your blood goes to your main organs like your heart, reducing blood flow to your arms and legs.
To demonstrate: Squeeze a stress ball over and over.
This simulates prolonged muscle contractions just like shivering. If you keep squeezing the stress ball your muscles feel fatigued and uncomfortable, just like your joints in cold weather.
3 Tips to Avoid Pain in Cold Weather
Tip #1. Layer Up Keep muscles and joints warm by dressing in thin layers. Tuck one layer into your pants to cover your back and add another layer over that. Keep your home warm and pre-heat your car to prevent cold weather flare-ups during daily activities.
Tip #2. Get Moving In cold weather, it’s tempting to just cuddle up and hibernate, but staying active can also help stave off stiffness. Something as simple as walking in place and stretching specific muscle groups can keep your joints flexible and pain-free.
Stretches to Prevent Body Stiffness: Neck Stretch (Isometric Neck Push): Neck pushes can improve upper back issues and overall posture.
• Start in a seated or standing position.
• Place palm of your hand on one side of your head.
• Keep your head in a neutral position while pressing your hand against your head and your head against your hand.
• Repeat this on the front, back and sides of your head, then release.
• Piriformis Stretch: This stretch helps avoid lower back pain by increasing hip mobility.
• Start in a seated position, placing ankle on your knee.
• Gently lean forward until you feel a pull around the hip of the bent leg.
• Repeat this stretch on the opposite side, then release. Hip Stretch (IT Band Stretch): Prolonged sitting can also cause knee and hip pain.
• Start by standing near a wall and place your hand high on the wall for balance.
• Take the leg closest to the wall and cross it behind your other leg.
• Gently push your hips toward the wall, and you will feel a stretch on the outside of the hip and leg.
• Repeat this stretch on the opposite side and then release.
Lumbar Stretch (Hip Flexor Lunge): This addresses the muscles that attach directly to the lower part of your spine.
• Start with one knee on the floor and the other foot out ahead of you.
• While keeping your spine straight and upright, begin to shift your weight forward.
• As you move forward, you will feel a pulling sensation from your thigh upwards to your belly button.
• Repeat on opposite side, then release.
Tip #3. Hydrate and Refuel Dehydration and vitamin D deficiency (which most all of us have) are common pitfalls in the shorter days of winter that can affect our bodies by causing headaches and depression, among other things. Eat balanced meals including vegetables and fruits like apples that contain a detoxifying ingredient called pectin. Stay away from foods with MSG, red wine, cheese, processed meats, coffee and carbonated drinks. Drink more water than usual and take a vitamin D supplement if your doc determines you have a deficiency.