Whether it be Aunt Ethel’s bum knee or Grandpa’s shoulder from a war wound, we all know someone who can predict foul weather by the amount of pain in a certain joint. Although many of us just tend to roll our eyes at the notion, it turns out that it might have some validity to it!
Studies have proven that changes in the humidity, temperature and barometric pressure affect the pressure inside our body. Specifically, it changes the amount of expansion allowed by our tissue and changes the way our body interprets sensations. When the temperature drops, our body’s natural reaction is to preserve body heat to maintain survival.
The body contracts its muscles in order to have less space to heat, but this also makes us less flexible. In addition to the cold, when the barometric pressure increases, it presses against the body from the outside; preventing the tissues and muscles surrounding the joints from being able to fully expand. This winter weather combination packs quite a punch with stiff and achy muscles and why we are more likely to sustain muscle related injuries during cold weather.
But, that isn’t all! When the barometric pressure suddenly drops, say right before a snowstorm, there is less pressure on the tissues. This allows them to expand in all directions, including into the joint the tissue is surrounding, placing extra pressure against those nerve endings. This explains the achy joints that have people saying they can predict bad weather by the presence of joint pain.
So, now that we know why we hurt, what can we do to stave off the pain during these cold winter months?? Well, here’s a few tips that can have you feeling better quickly:
- Dress in layers. When the body is sufficiently maintaining proper temperature, it will not be as prone to contracting the muscles to sustain body heat.
- Properly warm up muscles before physical activity. Whether you are shoveling snow or going for a run, it is imperative that your muscles be warm and stretched ahead of time to prevent injury.
- Chiropractic. Having any joints out of alignment will only heighten the pain sensations sent by the tissue’s nerve endings, increasing the pain felt during cold weather. Maintenance adjustments are especially important during the winter months!
- Acupuncture. Focusing on all natural, non-narcotic pain relief is always the best alternative and should be your first line of defense when the pain becomes intense.
J.D. Jones, Blogger, Chambers Chiropractic and Acupuncture, Martinsburg, WV
To correspond with J.D., you can email her at JJones.Chambers@gmail.com or call the office at (304) 263-4927.