Winter gives us a much required ‘break’ from summers. After months of sweating in sultry heat, one gets a chance to stay both indoors and outdoors, without worrying much. But winters is said to bring long lost pain back in our day to day routines too, such as – Pain from older injuries, asthma, arthritis and many more ailments. We all experience pain randomly in shoulder, neck or back causes of them could be varied, most common being our sedentary lifestyles such as lack of movement and prolonged sitting hours usually seen in office goers.
Henceforth, Physiotherapy is an effective way to find out more about the causes and related treatment for the pain as we are all aware of how immensely it helps in easing and recovering from such pains and niggles in winter season. It is a finer course of action for deep rooted causes as solace from all discomforts. Physiotherapy helps a person stay fit for much longer as our goal should be on toning and conditioning precise muscle group rather than aimless generalized training. Target Strengthening aids in better mobility and endurance which is helpful in dealing with day to day fatigue and lethargy in the chilly season.
Our aim should be constant therapy. As a therapist I can assure you slow but steady progress though it does takes time for an injury to heal nevertheless physio works on the root cause, functions by method as it requires skill, right technique and proper body alignment.
In this time of the year, generally distracting persistent pain and stiffness keeps us from being productive anywhere, one can’t focus on work or anything else. It takes away many precious minutes of our lives. Why should we leave it untreated, when Physiotherapy has the best solutions? Our goal should be effective recovery. After all, who likes to have “pain in the neck”, literally.
Stiffness or tightness in a muscle or a part of body can have one or more distinguish causes. During the cold season, you have likely been tensing up in an attempt to keep warm, as well as being more sedentary than you are during the warmer months. This tension and lack of movement has likely contributed to a loss of muscle length and muscle strength.
If you’re experiencing this stiffness and tightness during exercise, it may be due to the often-overlooked cause of muscle weakness. While it might seem counter-intuitive, strengthening the tight muscle could be just what is needed. Often when muscles become stiff during exercise it is due to muscle fatigue, resulting in tightening. When the muscles are strong, they are able to function more efficiently and for longer.
Low-impact form of resistance training such as exercise using resistance band or weights, power yoga, Pilates and cardio that can help to both lengthen and strengthen the muscles should be followed during this season. These exercises will certainly help us keep ourselves warm and energetic.
Strength is built by gradually increasing the resistance levels like a step by step process and also through a focus on core strength, which helps to improve your posture, supporting your overall strength and stability. Attention should be on safely increasing the length and stretch of muscles, as well as the range of motion within the joints. In colder temperatures, the joints pain tends to aggravate worsening the discomfort and in spite of no evidence being supporting the fact that drop in temperature affects our joints and muscles there lies one theory relating to drop in pressure tends to expand structures like tendons, ligaments and muscles decreasing the spaces and increasing the tension in the joint causing pain.
Why this happens?
Give a read to few other reasons why joint pains flares up in winter season:
- The pain receptors become more sensitive during the winters hence decreasing your pain threshold.
- There are more muscle spasms in colder temperatures, which worsens the pain and stiffness the joints.
- The cold reduces the blood circulation to the fingers and toes, which amplifies the niggles and aches.
- Less sunlight during winters means lower vitamin D levels and less of absorption of calcium leading to fragile bones and joints.
What will help?
- Keep yourself warm -seeing the temperatures of your city, choose to wear warm winter clothes or dress in layers. Always ensure that you cover your head, hands, legs and feet.
- Moisturize & Hydrate -Yes! you read it right even in winters you need to drink up lots of fluids, dry and harsh winters make you parched hence fluids help keep you more active. Even mild dehydration might make you more sensitive to pain and make you feel lethargic. Apply lots of skin moisturizing lotions from head to toe before going out.
- Exercise -Winters do make us want to cozy up all day in the blanket but what better than warming yourself up internally with good 30-45 minutes of workout rather than just with warm blankets and loads of layers! Stretch before you leave for outdoors.
- Avoid the chill – Older adults and old age people should use heating pads, hot water bags or an electric blanket to keep yourself warm while resting or sleeping. Heating pads are more useful for localized areas where joints have become stiff and painful from the cold weather. Hot showers and steam always help as it moistens your skin and also aids little aches here and there.
- Source up Vitamin D –Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, especially the wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, mushrooms, eggs and vitamin D fortified foods such as milk (any milk will do–cow, soy, almond, or coconut milk are all fortified). Lots of seasonal green leafy vegetables
- Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids are highly beneficial in reducing the inflammation level in your joints. Include avocado, flaxseeds, walnuts and fish in your diet with healthy amount of ghee and oils.
Last but not the least, Winters is a beautiful season personally my favorite so do follow a healthy and active lifestyle so that you may step out and enjoy the magical peep of sunshine.
Dr. Snigdha Sharma