Our clients often report that their arthritis plays up more than usual during wintertime. However, you’re not alone in this! Maroubra Road Physiotherapy have put together some helpful tips to help you manage your arthritis this winter.
Although physiotherapy can’t cure your arthritis, there are many ways that you can get relief from muscle tension and spasms as your body tries to protect you from chronic pain. So pass over that cup of hot chocolate, snuggle into that blanket and read on!
Why arthritis flares up during winter
No, you’re not imagining things, your arthritis actually does get worse during the winter. One US study from 2015 confirmed that cold weather is directly correlated to arthritic pain. The study included 810 participants with osteoarthritis in the knees, hands or hips. There was a correlation found between high humidity, low temperature and increased reports of joint pain.
At present the mechanisms for this increase in arthritis pain aren’t properly understood. Current research suggests that barometric pressure and tissue temperature may be the root cause of weather-related arthritic pain.
Gentle exercise is key
The idea of moving your sore joints may seem counterproductive during a bout of arthritis pain, but movement is actually incredibly helpful to you. Joints hate to be stiff and so depending on the severity of your condition, movement may be the best therapeutic treatment for your arthritis. Just be careful to not overdo it.
Walking in water
Walking in warm water at chest or waist height is an excellent way to provide your body with both support and resistance training. Start with 10-15 minutes of exercise at first and then build up to longer exercise sessions of over time. Begin slowly and then walk faster as you become more comfortable.
Likewise, gentle swimming is also good for easing arthritis pain. A hydrotherapy pool is ideal for this and provides a warming, soothing and supportive environment for your sore joints. Just be careful with walking out into the cold straight after your soak. Allow your body time to acclimatise to the changing air temperature afterwards.
3. Stationary bike
If you have access to a stationary bike, then this is a wonderful way to mobilise the knee, and reduce stiffness in the knee joint. It’s also effective for strengthening your quadriceps muscle.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise which originated as a martial art. It can offer arthritis relief with its slow and gentle stretching movements. One study by researchers at Tufts Medical School found that tai chi was effective in reducing pain and improving functionality for people living with severe knee osteoarthritis.
Treat yourself with a massage
In winter the pain of arthritis can make you feel miserable. So you should give yourself full permission to get a massage. A lot of the pain you are experiencing comes from inflammation of the joints and the supportive muscles surrounding them. Research in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015 demonstrated that having an hour long massage once every eight weeks reduces pain in the muscles and joints.
Heat as a healer
Heat is incredibly helpful for soothing pain. If you experience wrist pain, then a pair of arthritis gloves will help to soothe the wrist joint and keep your hands warm. A simple heat pack placed on the affected area of the body can also do wonders for easing aches and pains. Maroubra Road Physio sell heat packs in a variety of shapes and sizes that are designed to comfortably fit areas of the body needing comforting warmth.
Soft tissue mobilisation
At Maroubra Road Physiotherapy our physiotherapists are experts at mobilising stiff joints, massaging sore tight muscles with various soft tissue release techniques. We can also teach you strengthening exercises which will support your joints and help with long term pain management and pain relief.
How Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help
A diagnosis of arthritis often comes with a lot of worry and a feeling of helplessness. But the great news is that you can live with arthritis and effectively manage it with these techniques and tips.
The friendly and professional team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy can help you to manage your pain by getting you moving safely, rebuilding and restoring affected joints. We will show you how to beat the winter blues by exercising in a way to help manage the symptoms of arthritis.
We can tailor a stretching and exercise program to your specific needs. This will help you with strength, balance, flexibility and pain management. We can also provide you with advice and tips to improve your posture, and specific therapeutic tools and techniques that will support your body. Most importantly, we listen and are always available to support you to become healthier and happier while living with arthritis. Book an appointment with one of our friendly team today!
Arthritis Foundation of America (2019) Tai Chi for Arthritis
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2015) Pilot study of massage in veterans with knee osteoarthritisTufts Medical School (2008) Tai Chi and Your Knees