Winter in Canada makes life a little more challenging – all the more so when you’re living with arthritis. Forecasts are projecting a milder winter than usual for parts of Canada – if true, it’s a boon for those of us living with arthritis. But odds are we’ll all be facing the cold sooner or later, and when we do it may help to keep these tips in mind.
Heat those joints
Try any of a range of heat applications, like reusable warmers for your feet or hands, or battery-operated boots. Knee warmers or mittens at night to reduce pain in those spots. Use light-weight insulation for places where heat escapes, like the head and neck.
Protect your core temperature
This is especially important if you have joint pain or poor circulation in your extremities. Consider wearing undergarments specifically designed for insulation, and clothes made of natural light-weight fibers.
It’s easy to overtax a body that is managing arthritis in the winter. Avoid exhausting physical activity to help avoid flare-ups and increased pain. When shoveling snow, pace yourself, consider wearing splints or, better yet, delegate someone else to the task. In general, don’t go overboard and zap your energy.
Protect against falls with proper footwear. Ensure your boots are comfortable, stable and have solid traction. Consider aids like boot studs, as well as Nordic poles. Indoors, wear supportive shoes as it can offset pressure on your hips and knees.
Look for indoor options, like aqua-fitness, but also try to enjoy winter. Try urban poling (also good with snowshoes) or cross-country skiing. When stuck inside, do a handful of five-minute walks around the house to maintain fitness and mobility.
Coat or not coat?
Most jackets are heavy – which can trigger joint pain, neck discomfort and fatigue even when just running errands. If the temperature allows, consider wearing layers of lightweight, warm clothes. For coats: choose one that is very light-weight and ideally down-filled.
Soften cold-related joint pain and the stress of winter with relaxation therapies like meditation and yoga. Deep breathing also helps cold, tight muscles relax. When walking, focus on letting your shoulders drop, as we tend to hunch them when bracing against the elements.
Spice up your life
Cook with warm, anti-inflammatory spices and eat simple whole foods to maintain vitamin and iron levels. Avoid fatigue-inducing high-carb and high-sugar items. Steep tea with anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric and ginger.
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