How to Deal with Arthritis During Winter
Many people aren't fans of winter. But if you have arthritis, it can be particularly difficult to navigate the season comfortably and safely. Some studies show that arthritis pain worsens in cold weather, something to which anyone who has woken up stiff and sore in advance of a big snowstorm can relate. If you don't have the luxury of flying south to a warm climate, here are some ways to get through the chill without undue stress on your joints:
Walk with care. Walking is fantastic exercise for arthritis sufferers, and there's no reason to stop once the mercury dips. Obviously, quality gloves and boots are a must, and thermal undergarments might help on the coldest days. Try to find a surface that's not too hard on your joints, such as a high-school track or wooded trail. Be aware of icy roads and sidewalks and avoid them if you can-people with arthritis are 2.4 times more likely to fall than other people, even in good weather, due to less strength and more pain in the joints and muscles. If the cold is too much for you, join a gym and walk on a treadmill. Or try water walking for an invigorating and challenging workout.
Learn how to shovel snow properly. Don't have anyone to handle this chore for you? Make sure your shovel is comfortable to hold. It shouldn't be too long or too short. Try to shovel small amounts at various times throughout the snowfall rather than tackling six inches of fresh, heavy powder at the end. Protect your knees by pushing the snow off to the side rather than trying to lift mounds of it. And by all means, layer adequately to keep your joints warm and flexible.
Pamper yourself. Take extra care of yourself during the coldest part of the year. Ease troubled joints by soaking in a warm bath or hot shower, or applying cold packs to sore spots. Many people find that alternating hot and cold packs works wonders. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories may provide the relief you need during this unforgiving season. And a week in Florida couldn't hurt, either.
Arthritis Foundation, www.arthritistoday.com
Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com
Hospital for Special Surgery, www.hss.edu
Arthritis Austrialian Capital Territory, www.arthritisact.org.
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