Do you feel stiffer, sorer, and more sluggish in winter? You’re not alone. There’s a whole heap of reasons for why our bodies aren’t as flexible in the colder months, but luckily there are ways to combat them as well. Here are five common causes for winter stiffness, and tried and tested habits for keeping astride with our musculoskeletal health.
- We Move Less in Winter
Put a hand up if you move less in the colder, darker, wetter months. It makes sense really, that we’ll want to hibernate and stay cozy and snug at home. But with this sedentary, winter snugness comes stiffness and aches, often a process that sneaks up on us slowly but surely.
Make sure you get up out of your chair regularly, incorporate light stretching, schedule regular exercise, and make sure you warm up well. Bodies need a longer warm-up period in winter; without it the strain on our bodies can lead to tissue damage, injury, and soreness.
If you struggle to find motivation to exercise in winter, make an effort to find an activity you enjoy doing. There might be a ‘more effective’ exercise available to you, but the most effective exercise will always be the one you actually do. So this winter, take up an activity you enjoy, or have always wanted to try, be it climbing or swimming, brisk walking or interval running, cycling or bouldering, or perhaps gardening.
- The Cold Increases Existing Pains and Stiffness
If we’re stiff in summer, or struggle with arthritis, injuries, or other conditions that affect the joints, bones, and ligaments, chances are these pains will get exacerbated in winter, so the best prevention is to prepare. If you have an underlying condition you’re aware of, or you generally feel sore and stiff, make sure you head into the colder months with a game plan developed with your myotherapist or doctor.
- We Don’t Dress Appropriately for the Weather
Cold weather causes muscle contraction, which in turn can lead to:
- Muscle tightness
- Reduced muscle and joint mobility
- Pinched nerves
Staying warm is key to maintaining a resilient musculoskeletal system over winter, and how we dress can play a big role in this. Rather than bulky items, opt for several light and warm layers to trap warm air close to your body. That way you can also more easily regulate your temperature by donning or removing layers when moving between the outdoors and indoors.
- We Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D strengthens our bones, and without it we’re at risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures. In winter, the sun is out less, and so are we. Due to our weakened ozone-layer, we’re recommended to reduce our sun-time all year round in Australia, which is why we should keep a careful eye on our Vitamin D levels year-round. Eat fatty fish, take supplements, and talk to your doctor about how you can keep your bones strong year round.
- We’re Reactive, Not Proactive
Too often we wait until the pain and stiffness has arrived, and by that time, the work has been cut out for us. This winter, make sure you dress appropriately, get your vitamin D, exercise, stretch, eat warm hearty meals, and schedule a winter appointment with your trusted and experienced myotherapists to make sure you’re seeing to your body needs. Book an appointment today.