Muscle pain is a very common problem in cold weather. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete, a weekend warrior, working on your basic fitness or do very little exercise at all, muscle pain and dysfunction can dramatically affect your your day-to-day life.
Weather changes can trigger or aggravate existing issues in the muscles, particularly coming into the cold weather through Autumn into Winter. Colder weather can aggravate or bring about onset of muscle and joint pain in several ways.
How Does Cold Weather Affects the Muscles and Joints?
The colder months bring with them lower barometric air pressure. Gas expands when heated and contracts when cold, as a result the lower air temperature causes the air to constrict causing lower pressure. The lower air pressure can cause the soft tissue around your joints to expand in response and create restriction in the joints. This can cause pain in the joints and the muscles. The muscles also constrict in colder weather and are more prone to dehydration, cramping and spasm, which is why warm-up sessions and stretching are so important in lower temperatures.
How Cold Weather Affects Pre-existing Conditions
Fibromyalgia and arthritis are just two of many conditions that make sufferers more susceptible to the affects of cold weather, as the joints and muscles are already experiencing issues the change in temperature exacerbates the pain they are already experiencing. As arthritis sufferers already have swollen joints, when the soft tissue expands around the joints, it causes more pressure and pain than someone with healthy joints and muscles would experience.
How The Cold Can Indirectly Affect Muscles and Joints
While it is a myth that cold air causes colds and flu, there are some indirect ways that cold air can make you more likely to have symptoms and muscle and joint pain that often comes with viruses. When you are sick your body raises its internal temperature to make it harder for the virus to survive, this also creates inflammation which results in muscle aches and pains. People are also generally less active in colder weather, drink less water and spend more time indoors in stale air that may contain viruses, which contributes to greater incidences of illness, fever and results in muscle aches.
What Can I Do?
To prevent muscle aches in colder weather, always stretch and have a warm-up session to get your muscles well hydrated, loose and ready for activity. Keep yourself warm by wearing layers of clothing to prevent the muscles from constricting in the cold, and practice good general health and hygiene habits to prevent yourself from getting sick.
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