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How the cold weather might affect your joint pain

January 21, 2023

We spoke with Chris Pruvey, a musculoskeletal specialist on how the cold weather can affect your joints and how to reduce joint pain this winter.

Chris Purvey is a leading Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist who is trained in Sports & Exercise Medicine & has worked as an Extended Scope MSK Physiotherapist for 10 years. Luckily for us, he is also a clinician at Living Room Health.

In the following interview, find out how the cold weather can affect your joints and how to reduce joint pain this winter.

Does the cold weather or winter make arthritis worse?

Yes. There is some research to suggest that joint pains vary according to weather. Although we don’t know the exact mechanisms, we know that both cold weather and barometric pressure play a role in joint pain. If you have high barometric pressure, like in the summer, it can make joints feel a bit better. So generally, cold and rainy weather can make people’s joint pain worse.

"Generally, when there's low barometric pressure, like during cold and rainy weather it make people's joint pain worse"

Chris Pruvey (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist)

How do you recommend people keep their joints healthy in the winter?

It depends on their lifestyle. The biggest problems that we see with general musculoskeletal disorders are when people stay static for long periods, especially if they go from being static for long periods to being very, very active. That might be people who sit down, not doing a lot from Monday to Friday and then they try and run out on a cold Saturday morning, especially if they are a little bit older. We call them weekend warriors.

 

Doing some exercise during the week and keeping yourself moving is helpful. Doing a general warm-up before any sports or high-level physical activity will reduce injury rates as you are increasing your core body temperature.

What type of exercise can people do in the winter to help prevent injury or joint pain?

 Whatever exercise you choose, it is important to ease yourself into it. You don’t want to go from a low load for a long period of time to a high load straight away. That’s been shown to increase injury rates, so you want to ramp up your activity level slowly. Things like ‘Couch to 5K’ come in handy because they give you an actual plan. 

The other thing is if you have joint pain, simple things like not walking on pavement and not running on pavement straightaway can help. Running on grass or a trail can help a lot. Non-weight-bearing activities like swimming and cycling can be really, really helpful in people with significant arthritis or joint pain too.

 

If you are suffering from joint pain this winter, then you can speak to one of our consultants by completing our contact form.