A Patient Asks:
When it is cold outside, my joints and muscles get sore. Does the cold weather affect the joints and muscles, and will warming them make them feel better?
We saw a long, cold winter this year and, yes, the cold weather can affect joints and muscles.
Athletes warm-up before performing their athletic events in order to stretch and prepare the muscles and joints for movement. It is called a warm-up because heat allows for expansion of muscle tissue and prepares the muscles, which move joints to move more freely and without interruption.
A cold muscle holds toxins and is more rigid. Muscles are intended to be smooth and elastic. The cold muscle does not expand as easily as the warmed up muscle. A sudden movement of a cold muscle can jerk or tear the tendons (the ends of the muscle). Small micro tears as well as large tears in the tendons, or anywhere along a muscle, will cause an inflammatory reaction.
Fluid is drawn to and is accumulated at the site of the tear as a healing mechanism. This fluid accumulation is what interferes with joint function and may cause pain and stiffness.
Whether you are an athlete or a non-athlete, a cold muscle that is taxed for activity prior to appropriate preparation is asking for trouble, especially in cold weather. When your body temperature is down, it takes even more of a warm-up to prepare muscles and joints.
To combat the achy muscle/joint cold syndrome, I suggest always dressing warmly when going outside in the cold. Drink plenty of fluids, both warm and cold, especially water.
Water is necessary for your blood to move through your muscles carrying nutrients, oxygen, removing toxins and bringing warmth. Do moderate stretching of every joint after your morning shower. Yoga is also an excellent form of daily preparation. Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E, along with MSM, glucosamine sulfate and/or chondroitin sulfate have been documented to reduce joint aches.
Discuss these alternatives with your medical physician or chiropractor. Your doctor should review persistent joint or muscle ache that progresses, or is very intense. Chiropractors are an excellent source of knowledge and may have procedures that can help your condition.