It’s a familiar scenario for many people with chronic pain: the weather changes, and the pain flares up.
One study reports that 92% of patients suffering from widespread chronic pain believed their symptoms worsened when the weather was humid or cold. But while patients frequently report that the weather exacerbates their pain, research is still inconclusive about a direct correlation between the two. Some studies have found that a change in barometric – or atmospheric – pressure can aggravate joint pain.
But regardless of the specific cause, if you experience heightened pain during the winter months, it’s important to pay attention to your body and take steps to reduce your symptoms.
“Staying active in cold weather is a challenge for many people,” says Dr. Len Cerullo, MD. “But you can relieve pain by keeping your body warm and moving your muscles and joints.”
Relaxed, low-impact activities like Pilates, yoga and walking will allow you to exercise without putting unnecessary strain on your joints. You can set your own pace while stretching your muscles, improving circulation, and reducing cramping.
Cold temperatures can make your joints and muscles feel stiff and uncomfortable. Dress in warm layers, and be sure to cover your hands, feet, and head when you venture outdoors.
If the weather outside is frightful, find a way to get moving indoors. Take laps around a mall, attend a water aerobics class at your gym, or follow an exercise video in the comfort of your living room. Find creative ways to stay active without having to brave the cold.
“An added benefit of maintaining your exercise routine is that it helps combat winter weight gain,” says Dr. Cerullo. “Carrying around extra pounds puts more stress on the body and can worsen chronic pain symptoms. Make it a goal to move every day, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time,” says Dr. Cerullo.
Learn how The Len Cerullo Method’s personalized approach to pain management can help you.