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Why do muscles and joints get stiff and sore in cold weather?

Info Relinque - Thursday, June 09, 2011


 It is a question we are often asked at our clinic. It affects many people, and can be a cause of considerable pain and frustration.

There are three main changes that occur during the colder months that contribute to the increased stiffness and soreness you experience . Understanding why these changes occur will help you combat these common symptoms, and allow you to move through winter with decreased pain and stiffness.

1) Blood Flow
As you expose yourself to the colder weather of winter, your body tries to conserve heat and directs blood flow to your vital internal organs and away from your extremities. This results in a decreased amount of blood flow to your muscles and joints. As blood flow to your muscles is decreased, they shorten, and your body becomes stiff.

2) Barometric Pressure
The second point is the associated drop in Barometric pressure that usually comes with colder weather. Barometric pressure is quite simply the pressure that the atmosphere exerts on us, and the environment around us. The pressure that is exerted on us affects the flow of fluid and gases within our body, and therefore the amount of inflammation within the body. A decrease in Barometric pressure may lead to an increase in inflammation in already inflamed tissues and joints. As inflammation increases, so too does the amount of pain we feel.

3) Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. It usually begins as the days grow shorter and colder during Winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder seems to develop from inadequate exposeure to bright light. Scientists have found this changes the level of some chemicals within the brain. It can leave you feeling tired, depressed and irritable, and much less tolerant to aches and pains within the body.

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