As the weather changes and temperatures drop, the number of complaints regarding physical discomfort and inflammation tends to increase. There are a couple of reasons that the weather has an apparent effect on muscles, bones, and joints. Since the beginning of time, people have consistently reported limited mobility at lower temperatures. Here’s a little more on why and what you can do about cold weather joint discomfort.
The change from warm weather in the summer to cool fall days and cold nights can alter the needs of the body. When temperatures drop, the priority of the body is to warm important internal organs to keep them functioning properly and keep you alive. The concept of moving heat around internally to maintain balance is a function of homeostasis.
Lack of blood to areas like hands, feet, legs, neck and other places that have a propensity for achiness can exacerbate existing issues. This process of narrowing blood vessels to divert blood to vital organs is called vasoconstriction. Without a solid blood supply, the deprived areas can start to stiffen. This could be why it often takes more effort to get the body moving when it is cold out.
Cold Weather Joint Discomfort
For people with pre-existing injuries or joint issues, the cold can make things worse than normal. As people age, there is usually some deterioration of joints, muscles and the lining between them. This may be one of the reasons so many people opt to retire in warmer climates like Florida. Since not everyone can relocate or migrate during the cold months, here are some other options.
1. Stay Active
A lot of the activities that are possible in the spring and summer look very different in the colder seasons. Hiking, biking, running, swimming or even walking can all be a chore when it is cold outside. Staying active is important during the cold months, even if it is not outdoors. Join a gym or find time to commit to something as easy as yoga, tai-chi or just stretching that you can do at home to keep that blood flowing.
2. CBD Oil
Pain is processed by receptors that initiate a response. The body’s natural endocannabinoid system hosts endogenous cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors as well as enzymes that break down cannabinoids. This system determines the way we process and utilize cannabinoids within the body, including topical applications such as CBD oil (cannabidiol).
Receptors in the endocannabinoid system inhibit production of the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter “anandamide.” The purpose of anandamide is to block pain receptors. More anandamide equals less cold weather joint discomfort. CBD oil can assist in this process from the inside out.
3. Dress Warm
When we are cold, it is common to tense up muscles, especially those in the neck and back. Rarely does anyone stand straight up with great posture when they are shivering. Stay conscious of your posture and wear additional layers if needed, to avoid having to hunch over. This will allow your muscles to stay more relaxed and reduce the tension that arises from bad posture.
4. Fish Oil
High-quality fish oils are known for their ability to lubricate the body and thus ease some of the friction between joints and ligaments. Ask your local supplement store staff member for recommendations on the best brand and serving size for you and take regularly to help avoid cold weather joint discomfort.
5. Vitamin D
One of the biggest benefits of vitamin D is its mood-boosting properties. Once the days begin to shorten there is less time available to spend in the sun. Natural sunlight has the amazing ability to restore focus and lift spirits. Getting even just 15 to 20 minutes a day outside can make a big difference. Most people are vitamin D deficient even in the summer months, so it is extra important to be conscious of vitamin D levels in the fall and winter.
6. Stay Hydrated
Cold weather joint discomfort is made worse when cartilage meant to cushion the joint has been weakened or damaged. Approximately 60 percent of joint cartilage is made of water. It is easier to become dehydrated in the cooler weather because the sensation of thirst is reduced. Drinking an adequate amount of water in the fall and winter can help reduce seasonal discomfort by keeping the body lubricated.
If you are dreading the coming season of lower temperatures because of cold weather joint discomfort, these little changes could make a big difference in keeping your body comfortable. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!