Managing your knee pain this Winter
Winter nights are drawing in and you may start to feel the familiar aches and pains in your knees that colder weather brings. Did you know that the most recognised theory for explaining these aches is that the nerve endings in our joints become hypersensitive when cold and cause us to experience pain more intensely? There are other theories, for example, that barometric pressure can affect knee pain in Winter, but the results from studies are inconclusive. Luckily, whatever the cause, there are some simple steps you can take to manage your knee pain this Winter. We asked Chris Miles from AposTherapy for some of his top tips.
Why heat helps knee pain
Using heat and warmth on arthritic, aching joints is something many people find comforting and relaxing, but what, precisely, is so soothing about heat?
Studies have shown that warmth, when applied to painful areas of the body, stimulates your sensory receptors to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain as if transmitting the message of warmth is given priority over pain. It has been show that heat of more than 40 degrees Celsius, applied to the skin close to the area where pain is being felt, can switch on heat receptors and in turn, blocks the body’s ability to detect pain. It is therefore useful to apply heat to your painful knees at that temperature or higher, depending on what is comfortable and being careful not to use something so hot it burns.
Ways to keep your knees warm this Winter
Stay active, but get enough rest too
Being active on a regular basis, despite the shorter and colder days, is crucial for not only managing knee pain in Winter, but also preventing it. Chris explains, ‘Walking and staying active will naturally keep your body temperature higher and improve circulation to the knees. The movement also keeps the joints supple and therefore reduces the stiffness that you may experience after prolonged periods of rest.’
One way to stay active in Winter is to exercise indoors. Online you’ll find plenty of free exercise programmes you can do without any equipment. Alternatively, you could invest in a stationary bike or elliptical trainer, which is lower impact on the knees than running on a treadmill. That being said, it’s important not to overdo it, to ensure you don’t put too much stress on the knees at any one time. Spreading activity throughout the day, with rests in between is ideal.
In addition to these tips, a gentle massage of the muscles surrounding the knee for 5-10 minutes can also be a great way to relieve pain. So, whilst we can’t improve the British weather, we can provide you with all the information you need to manage your knee pain this Winter, allowing you to look forward to a fun and pain free Christmas and New Year!
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