Winter Weather Survival Tips for Those With Chronic Joint Pain
“Winter is coming. We know what is coming with it.” -Jon Snow
As Mr. Snow says, winter is coming, and with it, a lot of challenges for individuals living with chronic joint pain. From aching joints to the hazards of shoveling snow and the risks of slips and falls, it's important to be prepared and take proactive measures to stay safe and minimize discomfort during the colder months.
Here are some tips to help you survive the winter season:
Having a cold weather survival kit specifically tailored to your needs is essential for managing chronic joint pain. While every person's kit may vary, here are some key items that you may find helpful:
Heating pad: Invest in an electric or microwavable heating pad to provide soothing heat to your back when you're sitting, whether it's while watching TV, reading, or working. Heat can help relax muscles and improve blood circulation, providing relief from pain and stiffness. Consider using a full back cape heating pad that covers your neck, shoulders, and back for maximum comfort.
Warm socks: Keeping your feet warm is crucial, as cold weather can lead to decreased blood flow to extremities, causing discomfort and pain. Opt for thick socks that provide insulation and cushioning, helping to keep your feet happy and minimizing pain in your entire body. Additionally, well cushioned feet take a lot of stress off the rest of your body.
Warm drinks: Staying hydrated is important during the winter months, especially if you are working outside. Cold weather can cause faster evaporation of sweat, leading to increased stress to the body.. Drinking warm beverages not only helps to keep you warm but also ensures that your joints remain adequately lubricated. However, be mindful of caffeine intake. Even though a cup of hot coffee is magic in a mug, too much caffeine can constrict blood vessels and potentially exacerbate pain.
Shoveling snow can be physically demanding and put additional stress on your joints. Consider the following tips to minimize the impact on your body:
Delegate to others: If possible, enlist the help of neighborhood kids or hire someone with a plow to clear your driveway. This reduces the strain on your body and lessens the chances of injury. It's worth the investment to prioritize your well-being. Note: while it’s usually easy to find a band of 13 year olds looking for money, finding someone to plow your driveway can be a little more challenging. My advice is to find someone during the fall or sooner. People with plows is a hot commodity, so contract them early.
Clear only what's necessary: Rather than trying to remove every snowflake, focus on clearing a path from your car's tires to the road. This allows for safe mobility without putting excessive strain on your body. Remember, it's about functionality, not impressing others.
Slips and falls
Slipping on ice can lead to painful falls and potential injuries. Even if you don’t fall, the simple act of tightening your muscles to keep your balance can have lasting, painful effects. Take precautions to reduce the risk:
Use salt: Prior to an ice storm, apply a layer of salt on walkways and driveways. This helps to prevent ice formation or makes it easier to remove when clearing away snow. Opt for a "Pet Safe" variety if you have pets to protect their paws.
Metal studs: Attach metal studs to the bottoms of your boots for added traction on icy surfaces. These studs are typically available as tight rubber overshoe attachments. While they can be challenging to put on, they provide extra stability and grip. I have a pair of second-hand boots I have designated as my ice boots so I don’t have to keep attaching and removing the studs. Use these boots specifically for outdoor activities and ensure you have a designated area, such as a rug, to prevent damage to indoor flooring.
Remember, these tips are based on personal experiences, and there may be other methods that work well for different individuals. Share your own winter survival tips in the comments below, and may you have a safe and as pain-free as possible winter season!
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