Dealing with joint pain and stiffness is difficult at any point in the year, but research has shown that the winter months are usually even more so because cold weather affects arthritic conditions. While cold weather doesn’t cause arthritis in and of itself, it can be an exacerbating factor for many people with joint pain and stiffness driven by arthritic conditions.
There are several reason why cold weather affects joint pain. One is barometric pressure; when pressure is low, joint tissues expand and nerves become irritated. This leads to an increase in pain. While there isn’t much you can do to escape cold weather, adding some gentle stretches to your daily routine in the colder months can lessen the effects of cold weather on the joints. Read on to learn about some daily gentle stretches to keep you and your joints moving in winter.
Is stretching good to do every day in winter?
If you have joint stiffness and pain, stretching every day is a great way to manage it. This is because more movement throughout the colder months has been shown to increase blood and oxygen flow to problem areas, and to promote a better range of motion and physical function. Mental relaxation can also be helpful when dealing with joint pain, and stretching can aid in increasing feelings of relaxation and wellbeing.
How can I stop joint pain in winter?
There are a few tips you can incorporate into your daily life when trying to avoid joint pain in the winter. They include:
- Dress warmer: Bundling up can keep your joints protected better from cold weather.
- Stay hydrated: It’s easy to skip that cold glass of water in favor of a hot coffee when it’s cold out, but staying properly hydrated is important. Try heating up your water and adding lemon for a boost of comfort and flavor.
- Use vitamin D supplements: Deficiencies in vitamin D can cause arthritis to become more painful, so make sure you’re getting enough throughout the winter.
While these tips won’t cure your arthritis, they can make it more manageable throughout the winter months, especially when you also undertake some daily gentle stretches.
What are the best daily gentle stretches to do in the winter months for joint paint and stiffness?
Movement has been shown to ease arthritis pain because it can improve range of motion in the joints. The following daily gentle stretches are great additions to your everyday routine to combat arthritis pain during the winter months.
1. Supine hamstring stretch
The supine hamstring stretch is helpful for those who want to improve lower body arthritis pain. This stretch strengthens the muscles in the lower body.
- Lie flat on your back on a soft surface such as a mat, carpet, or even your bed
- With one leg flat and straight out from your body, bend the opposite knee
- Slowly bring the knee in to your chest
- When the knee is in place, hold a point of your leg that you can reach while remaining flat and begin stretching the leg straight, bringing it closer to your head until you feel the stretch
- Hold for up to a minute and repeat five times on each leg
2. Knee-to-chest stretch
The knee-to-chest stretch starts in a similar position to the supine hamstring stretch. It is designed to strengthen both your lower back and your glutes, and can help greatly with knee pain.
- Lie on your back with legs straight out
- Pull one knee into your chest gently using both of your hands
- Hold until you feel a stretch in your leg and lower back, or for 30 seconds
- Bring your leg back down and repeat on each knee two or three times
3. Clam stretch
Physiotherapists often use the clam stretch for clients with knee and joint pain. It is designed to reduce knee impact by strengthening the hips and glutes.
- Lie down on your side with your feet stacked on top of one another
- While keeping your shoulders, hips, and feet aligned, bend your hips and knees to 90 degrees
- Once holding in position, lift your top knee up while keeping your feet together, then lower it
- Repeat on both side between 10 and 15 times
4. Quadricep stretch
To improve range of motion and flexibility, you can try a quadricep stretch. It also helps to relieve joint pain the knees.
- Lie flat on your stomach
- Place one arm in front of you to help support you
- Using your opposite arm and leg, slowly bend the knee and reach to grab your ankle or shin
- Once you are in position, lift your knee off the ground slowly and gently until you feel the stretch
- Hold for up to five seconds and repeat on both sides three to five times
If you suffer from winter joint pain, these daily gentle stretches can relieve pain throughout the colder months by strengthening areas of the body that can bear some of the load on your joints.