Brrr! It’s getting cold outside. Let’s heat things up from the inside. Your body may be sensitive to differences in temperature or barometric pressure. You may feel more aches when it’s cold or rainy. Here are some ways to fight off cold weather pains. 

Don’t forget to rev up your body by doing warm-up movements. You generally need 3-8 minutes of activity to get your heart pumping enough to warm up your body and muscles. During the cold months, you may find it takes longer to warm up, so extend your time to 10-15 minutes. Don’t forget to warm up before you participate in winter sports. Take an easy warm-up lap when you’re skiing. Consider doing bodyweight squats, jumping jacks and arm circles to boost your blood circulation.

Dress Code
Dress appropriately for the weather. It’s recommended to dress as if it’s 10 degrees warmer outside when you are exercising or playing sports to account for the increase in your body heat. Consider wearing a windbreaker to fend off wind chill. Avoid wearing cotton close to your skin as it holds moisture and dries slowly. Wear moisture-wicking materials which will keep wetness from sweat away from your skin. Dress in layers or bring a change of clothes for after your workout to prevent being cold and wet as you cool down.

Cold temperatures cause your muscles to contract and tighten, reducing the area that needs energy to keep your body warm. Spend more time on stretching in the cold months. Hold your stretches for 30-60 seconds. Stretching will keep your joints mobile and help reduce joint pain. The first few stretches may be painful but as your muscles loosen up the pain should decrease. Don’t feel discouraged if your muscles and joints always feel tight. Keep stretching!

External Heat
Use external heat sources to warm up your muscles and joints. Try a heat pack or heating pad. Put it directly on the area where you have pain. Leave it on for 10-20 minutes at a time. Sauna and steam rooms can also help soothe cold weather aches. Get a two-for-one benefit by doing a few stretches while in the sauna or steam room. Don’t use the sauna or steam room for more than 30 minutes at a time. 

Heat it up during the cold months to relieve your winter aches.

By Dr. Laurel Mines, PT, DPT