10 Facts About How Cold Weather Can Lead to Muscle Pain
Muscle pain is a prevalent issue, especially during the harsh winter months. This discomfort often arises from overexertion, but cold weather can also contribute to muscle and ligament contractions, leading to pain. If you’ve been experiencing increased discomfort recently, it’s worth exploring whether the cold weather is a contributing factor. Additionally, we’ve researched strategies to help prevent muscle pain associated with chilly conditions.
The Correlation Between Cold Weather and Muscle Pain
During cold weather, it’s common for many of us to adopt a specific posture. We often tuck our hands into our coat pockets and hunch our shoulders. This instinctual behavior is a way to conserve body heat, but if this posture is sustained for extended periods, it can lead to muscle strain and discomfort. The hunched position can cause tension in the shoulder area, leading to stiffness. Moreover, it shifts the head’s center of gravity forward, placing additional stress on the muscles around the neck and shoulders, making them more susceptible to fatigue and ultimately resulting in pain.
Existing Pain May Worsen
As temperatures drop, muscles and blood vessels become less flexible, increasing the likelihood of experiencing muscle pain. If you typically struggle with pain in areas like the neck, shoulders, or arms, or if you have conditions such as a herniated disc, you may find that muscle pain worsens during the winter months. Persistent muscle discomfort can also impede blood circulation to the head, potentially resulting in headaches or dizziness. It’s essential to alleviate and prevent such pain, especially in colder weather.
Remember to Stretch
Stretching is of paramount importance, and its benefits cannot be overstated. While some individuals may find stretching uncomfortable, it plays a vital role in gently elongating and rehabilitating damaged muscles, aiding in their swift recovery. This becomes particularly significant during winter when the cold weather can exacerbate muscle discomfort. Engaging in indoor stretching exercises that target and condition the muscles can effectively alleviate and prevent regular muscle pain associated with colder temperatures.
Stretch and Pull Your Shoulders
Regularly stretching and pulling your shoulders before bed can somewhat reduce muscle pain caused by the cold. The shoulders are the part of our body with the most extensive range and movement, and the pain spreads more broadly than in other areas. First, clasp your hands with your palms facing the sky and extend both arms. Bend your arms behind your head so that the shoulder muscles are adequately stretched, then return to the starting position with your hands clasped above your head and extend your arms. Conversely, extend your elbow by reaching your arm forward, then attach the opposite arm to the outside of the extended arm. Pull your shoulder towards your torso using the outer arm, and you’re done!
What’s the Difference Between Joint Pain and Muscle Pain?
Most muscle pain typically affects larger muscle groups, like the back and shoulders, without trauma or other underlying causes. There are often no pathological changes, and the pain is straightforward. It worsens when the muscles are in motion or under pressure, like when touched. Conversely, pain can manifest even in a resting state if there’s an issue in the joint area. Signs of joint problems may include a grinding sensation during joint movement, audible noises when bending or extending, or a sense of instability. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to investigate potential joint abnormalities.
It May Not Be Simple Muscle Pain
Nonetheless, it’s essential not to dismiss the possibility that what you’re experiencing may not be ordinary muscle pain but rather myofascial pain syndrome, a chronic pain condition that warrants attention. Myofascial pain syndrome predominantly manifests in the trapezius muscle, which spans from the neck to the shoulders and back. In this condition, the affected muscle contracts and becomes taut like a band, resulting in pain. Symptoms often encompass shoulder discomfort, a pulling sensation in the back of the neck, and headaches. In severe instances, it can even lead to conditions like fibromyalgia and polymyositis.
The Key to Winter Muscle Pain is Keeping Warm
To prevent muscle pain caused by cold weather, keeping warm is fundamentally the most important. As the temperature drops, muscles and ligaments contract and tense, causing neck, shoulder, and back pain. When going out, it’s a good idea to wear scarves, gloves, etc., to meticulously keep warm so that the heat inside the body doesn’t escape. Layering thin padding is more effective for keeping warm than wearing one thick padding.
Take a Bath
Taking a bath helps enhance blood circulation by leveraging the relaxing properties of warm water on the body’s muscles. This, in turn, accelerates the healing process throughout the body and imparts a soothing sensation as tired and tense muscles unwind in the warmth of the water. As the muscles loosen up, the recovery from muscle pain can be significantly expedited.
Take Regular Breaks
In the case of muscle pain, natural healing is possible in most cases, but if the symptoms are too severe, you should take a break from exercise and allow for recovery through rest, sleep, and meals. If you lead a healthy daily life, the tense muscles will naturally relax, and muscle pain can be relieved.
Another Pain That Can Occur Due to Cold
When the weather gets cold, many people complain of pain here and there. This happens because various organs, musculoskeletal systems, hormones, etc., function differently to adapt to the cold environment. Not only muscle pain but also vascular diseases need to be careful because blood rushes to the deep part of the body to raise the body temperature when the temperature drops a little. This burden on the heart and blood vessels increases mainly when the temperature difference between inside and outside is more than -7°C (18°F).
By. Shin Young Jeon