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Managing Body Pain in Cold Weather with Physical Therapy


November 10, 2017

Those who suffer from arthritis, back, and joint pain often dread winter weather. Every broken tree branch carries the reminder of the dangers of the cold, but why do we feel this way when the weather shifts into the snowy season? Physical therapists throughout the Wyoming and Nebraska area often treat injuries related to the cold, like those who slip and fall, but there are ways physical therapists can help you alleviate some of the aches from the cold as well.

Outside Temps Affect Your Body


When the temperature drops, most people’s inclination is to swaddle themselves up to keep warm. This reaction is due in part to our muscles reacting to the cold – they tighten, contract, and become more rigid as a result. This in itself can cause soreness and aches in your body just due to prolonged contraction of muscles – you might not intentionally be flexing, but thanks to the snow, your back, arms, or legs are getting a tiny workout.
Many people think that the reason behind our aches and pains during winter is simply the temperature itself – your body does contract and tighten in cold as opposed to warm, but it is not the only cause.

Barometric Pressure


When you can “feel” weather moving in – unfortunately that does not indicate an intuitive quality, but it is 100% real. Your body can feel shifts in barometric pressure, from your muscles to your brain. It can shift the way your brain registers feelings in conjunction, so while most people joke about predicting the weather with their knee or hands, chances are they do have an ailment that is more sensitive to these changes in weather patterns and pressure. Particularly those with arthritis tend to feel these effects heavily – and generally the lower the pressure, the more painful the arthritis pains.

So – how do you manage these frequent aches and pains during the winter?

Pains and body issues will vary for everyone, so a specific seasonal plan can be put in place by your physical therapist to help you manage year-round depending on how severe you experience these changes. Some more common methods of managing body soreness in the winter is simply by creating heat in your body. Things like jumping rope indoors, thoroughly stretching, and keeping your body moving will certainly help warm up your muscles, but you can try different topical heating ointments, or even a heating pad to target certain areas of your body.

Not sure where to start? Contact your local physical therapy clinic to learn how you can manage this season’s ailments and put together a treatment plan to manage it long-term. If you are experiencing chronic pain or need help recovering from an injury, get in touch with a member of the team at North Platte Physical Therapy. Our highly-trained staff can assist you at one of our 19 locations in the Wyoming and Nebraska region and offer varied services to get you active and feeling great again! Contact us today to get started.