You may find that as the weather gets colder, you may experience more aches and pains, and even feel like your muscles are stiffer. This is even more evident for workers who work outside in the winter, or individuals with certain ailments. The cold weather can increase the risk of suffering from MSK injuries and can even increase the intensity of certain MSK conditions.
How Can the Cold Weather Impact Us?
If you live with an arthritic condition you might find that your symptoms may be exacerbated by cold weather conditions, which can keep you away from doing the activities you enjoy. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis may not react well to sudden weather or atmospheric changes, which may worsen symptoms1.
Even without any specific conditions, most of us are very aware of how our bodies feel and move when we are cold – we may move slower and walk around when our muscles are tense and stiff. This can result in soreness that we may not experience otherwise. For those who work outside, be conscious of your working conditions. Feeling warm, safe and comfortable is important as heavy lifting and overexertion can increase risk of injury in colder temperatures2.
Here are a few things that can be done to prevent stiffness and MSK-related injuries during the winter months3:
- Maintain an active lifestyle – make sure you are doing some form of physical activity to exercise your muscles and joints
- Dress warmly – wear proper clothing to keep your body warm and protected from the cold
- Wear proper boots that are waterproof and warm, and have good threads to prevent falls
- Wear a warm hat (keeping your head warm reduces the amount of body heat that escapes from your head).
- Do not stay out in the cold for too long (if you work outside, move indoor during your breaks if possible).
The winter months shouldn’t keep you from doing the things you love, or keep you indoors in pain. Keep active and dress warmly, and you may be able to minimize the aches and pains of the season. Your chiropractor can also help you manage your condition-related pain during the winter months, and help you prevent MSK conditions if you work outdoors.
1. Irish Health.com, “Cold and damp Weather,” http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?con=329#q3
2. BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, “Workplace Guidelines for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injuries,” http://www2.gov.bc.ca/local/myhr/documents/safety/workplace_guidelines_prevention_msi.pdf
3. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Cold Stress, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/coldstress/