APM Blog

Weather

Weather (3)

16 Nov

As the temperatures begin to drop, so do many people’s activity levels. Walks in the park and days spent gardening or biking are replaced with cozy days indoors, often in front of the TV. But there are actually a multitude of options for cool-weather fitness, no matter your activity level. Here are our top 5 favorites.

Swimming_is_a_good_fall_workout.

  1. Indoor swimming. Swimming is a great alternative to higher-impact exercises, like running, because it puts less pressure on the joints, according to physical therapist Courtney Wack. “It is great for knee pain, especially due to arthritis, and many back conditions,” she says, “because it decreases the pressure on the vertebral discs or facet joints. It is also very beneficial for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or CRPS.”

    Not only is swimming a low-impact exercise, but it’s also versatile. Typical lap swimming works a variety of muscles and can help you develop core body strength, but it’s not the only aquatic fitness option. Many gyms and YMCAs with indoor pools offer a variety of aqua classes, from simple shallow-water exercises and classes designed to improve muscle strength and joint function to more intense classes like aqua Zumba, water jogging and intense cardio pool workouts. And, if you’re still on the fence, consider the fact that taking a dip in a heated pool can even help relax painful muscles and loosen joints. 

  2. Walking. While it might seem obvious, walking is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. But walking on streets and sidewalks, even with the colorful fall foliage, can get dull. Consider spicing up your walking routine by taking a jaunt through a hay bale or corn maze, or take advantage of state parks, forests, recreation areas, trails and wildlife areas, which contain thousands of miles of hiking trails.

    If the weather isn’t cooperating, consider a stroll through your local mall. Mall perimeters typically range from .4 miles to .8 miles around, and most shopping centers have extended early hours specifically for walkers. Some even provide guests with complimentary walking logs and pedometers to help track your progress.

    Before starting your walk, warm up with a few stretches to prevent injury. “You can do some basic trunk rotation (looking over your shoulder), hamstring stretches (reaching toward your toes) and quadriceps stretches (holding your foot behind you),” says Courtney.

  3. Workout classes. Nowadays, gyms offer much more than simple aerobics and step classes. You can get your groove on in classes dedicated to belly dancing, hip hop, funk or Zumba, get your heart rate up with group treadmill, boxing or interval classes, or stretch it out and clear your mind with Pilates, yoga or Tai chi. For beginners, says Courtney, “Yoga and Pilates are great for developing your core and maintaining flexibility.”

    Every gym offers its own unique list of classes geared toward any fitness level. Even those just beginning a workout routine – or those who want to take it slow – can enroll in a beginner-friendly running or strength and movement class, which may also include tips on nutrition.

  4. Fitness videos. With YouTube and Amazon at your fingertips, any fitness video or DVD you can imagine is just a click away. And don’t think fitness DVDs are just for the super-intense P90X crowd; there’s an option for every expert level. For those who are less mobile, Courtney suggests the Sit and Be Fit series, which gives easy sitting stretches and exercises. There are various DVDs in the series, including ones geared toward those with arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as general balance, stretching and aerobics.

    Barre workouts are also becoming more popular, and instructional videos can be found on Youtube or purchased on Amazon. The concept is simple: Use a ballet barre to balance while doing small strengthening exercises focused on a specific set of muscles. The workout was actually designed by a ballerina after a back injury as a kind of rehab combined with dance conditioning. (Don’t worry, there’s no dance experience required!) When done right, it’s said to improve core strength and enhance mobility. And it can be done barefoot.
  1. Indoor sports league. Sports leagues aren’t just for kids. Consider picking up a new sport – or getting back to one you haven’t played in a while. There are men’s, women’s and coed leagues for a wide variety of skill levels. If the traditional basketball and volleyball leagues aren’t your style, consider joining a dodgeball, inner tube water polo, bowling or even ping pong team. Indoor soccer and flag football leagues are also available.

    But don’t forget to properly prepare for game time. “I would recommend a couple nights of practice before starting out with your first league game,” says Courtney. “Do some jogging to warm up and practice whatever motions are needed for the sport.” If it’s bowling you choose, she suggests doing some trunk rotation (looking over your shoulder) and playing a few games to warm up.  If it’s volleyball, make sure to warm up your shoulder with some serves, ball throws and lateral (side-to-side) movements before game time.

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02 Nov

When it’s about to rain, can you feel it in your joints? Or when the temperature starts to plummet, do your pain levels start to rise? Read on to discover the truth behind the theory.

Scientific Studies

People with various chronic pain conditions, including arthritis, back pain and migraines, often report that the weather has the ability to change their pain levels. But so far scientific studies haven’t found a definitive correlation between weather and pain.

A study released this year in the journal Rheumatology International concluded, “Contrary to common belief … precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure did not influence the intensity of pain reported by patients during an episode of low back pain.”[1] And a review of nine studies on the subject found no “consistent group effect of weather conditions on pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis.”[2]

But just because studies haven’t found a definitive connection doesn’t mean that the weather has no impact on pain. Additional studies have found that there may be more to the matter than simply “weather doesn’t affect pain” or “weather does affect pain.” It may be the case that there are two groups of people – those who are weather-sensitive and those who aren’t.[2][3] The aforementioned review of nine studies went on to say that there is “evidence suggesting that pain in some individuals is more affected by the weather than in others, and that patients react in different ways to the weather.”[2] This may be especially true for women and those who are prone to anxiety.[3]

So while all chronic pain sufferers may not experience pain due to weather changes, it seems that a distinct subgroup does.

Possible Causes

Since science disagrees on whether the connection even exists, there’s little concrete data on why pain may be affected by the weather, but there are several theories. The main one revolves around the idea of barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure, also called atmospheric or air pressure, refers to the weight of the air in Earth’s atmosphere. Since it changes based on the weather (lower pressure usually indicates oncoming cloudy or stormy conditions), barometric pressure is a key measurement used by meteorologists in their forecasts. The theory goes that decreased pressure in the air means increased pressure on the joints. This may be because there’s less atmospheric pressure holding the tissue back, causing it to swell more than usual and thus irritate the nerves.[4] Cold weather may also affect tissue, causing it to shrink and pull painfully on the nerves.

There may also be an underlying psychological aspect to the connection. It’s well-known that weather has the ability to change a person’s mood and mood, in turn, can help or hurt an individual’s ability to cope with pain.

The weather also affects our activity levels, which play a big part in the experience of pain. As physical therapists often say, motion is lotion. Staying active keeps our joints lubricated and our muscles loose. But inclement weather keeps us indoors, preventing many people from getting the exercise they need. This may also lead to weight gain, putting even more pressure onto the joints and causing increased pain levels.

Pain Relief Tips

There are a few simple things you can do to help offset the increased pain due to weather. Keeping active despite the cold or rain can make a big difference. While the weather may keep you from walking outdoors or riding your bike, consider adopting an indoor workout program, which could include swimming, track walking or an indoor sports league. Exercise won’t just help with pain and weight, but it will also help boost your endorphin levels, putting you in a better mood and making it easier to cope with pain.

Staying warm also plays a part in staving off cold-related pain. Dress in layers and keep your home well-heated to keep your body from getting too cold. For symptomatic relief, consider utilizing a heating pad or taking a dip in a heated pool or bath.

Of course if your pain condition doesn’t improve, or you’re interested in more long-term solutions to your pain, it’s advisable to see a pain specialist, who can provide a variety of minimally invasive treatment options to help you weather the storm.

Download your free stretching exercises for pain reduction

[1] Duong, Vicky, Chris G. Maher, Daniel Steffens, Qiang Li, and Mark J. Hancock. “Does weather affect daily pain intensity levels in patients with acute low back pain? A prospective cohort study.” Rheumatology International 26, no. 5 (May 2016): 679-684.

[2] Smedslund, Geir, and Kåre Birger Hagen. “Does rain really cause pain? A systematic review of the associations between weather factors and severity of pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis.” European Journal of Pain 15, no. 1 (January 2011):5-10.

[3] Timmermans, Erik J., Suzan Van Der Pas, Laura A. Schaap, Mercedes Sánchez-Martínez, Sabina Zambon, Richard Peter, Nancy L. Pedersen, Elaine M. Dennison, Michael Denkinger, Maria Victoria Castell, Paola Siviero, Florian Herbolsheimer, Mark H. Edwards, Ángel Otero, and Dorly Jh Deeg. "Self-perceived Weather Sensitivity and Joint Pain in Older People with Osteoarthritis in Six European Countries: Results from the European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA)." BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 15, no. 66 (March 5, 2014).

[4] “Fact or Myth: Weather Affects Arthritic Joint Pain,” University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Accessed September 2, 2016. http://specialtyclinics.med.sc.edu/joint_pain.asp

31 Oct

As the temperatures begin to drop, so do many people’s activity levels. Walks in the park and days spent gardening or biking are replaced with cozy days indoors, often in front of the TV. But there are actually a multitude of options for cool-weather fitness, no matter your activity level. Here are our top 5 favorites.

Swimming_is_a_good_fall_workout.

  1. Indoor swimming. Swimming is a great alternative to higher-impact exercises, like running, because it puts less pressure on the joints, according to physical therapist Courtney Wack. “It is great for knee pain, especially due to arthritis, and many back conditions,” she says, “because it decreases the pressure on the vertebral discs or facet joints. It is also very beneficial for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or CRPS.”

    Not only is swimming a low-impact exercise, but it’s also versatile. Typical lap swimming works a variety of muscles and can help you develop core body strength, but it’s not the only aquatic fitness option. Many gyms and YMCAs with indoor pools offer a variety of aqua classes, from simple shallow-water exercises and classes designed to improve muscle strength and joint function to more intense classes like aqua Zumba, water jogging and intense cardio pool workouts. And, if you’re still on the fence, consider the fact that taking a dip in a heated pool can even help relax painful muscles and loosen joints. 

  2. Walking. While it might seem obvious, walking is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. But walking on streets and sidewalks, even with the colorful fall foliage, can get dull. Consider spicing up your walking routine by taking a jaunt through a hay bale or corn maze, or take advantage of state parks, forests, recreation areas, trails and wildlife areas, which contain thousands of miles of hiking trails.

    If the weather isn’t cooperating, consider a stroll through your local mall. Mall perimeters typically range from .4 miles to .8 miles around, and most shopping centers have extended early hours specifically for walkers. Some even provide guests with complimentary walking logs and pedometers to help track your progress.

    Before starting your walk, warm up with a few stretches to prevent injury. “You can do some basic trunk rotation (looking over your shoulder), hamstring stretches (reaching toward your toes) and quadriceps stretches (holding your foot behind you),” says Courtney.

  3. Workout classes. Nowadays, gyms offer much more than simple aerobics and step classes. You can get your groove on in classes dedicated to belly dancing, hip hop, funk or Zumba, get your heart rate up with group treadmill, boxing or interval classes, or stretch it out and clear your mind with Pilates, yoga or Tai chi. For beginners, says Courtney, “Yoga and Pilates are great for developing your core and maintaining flexibility.”

    Every gym offers its own unique list of classes geared toward any fitness level. Even those just beginning a workout routine – or those who want to take it slow – can enroll in a beginner-friendly running or strength and movement class, which may also include tips on nutrition.

  4. Fitness videos. With YouTube and Amazon at your fingertips, any fitness video or DVD you can imagine is just a click away. And don’t think fitness DVDs are just for the super-intense P90X crowd; there’s an option for every expert level. For those who are less mobile, Courtney suggests the Sit and Be Fit series, which gives easy sitting stretches and exercises. There are various DVDs in the series, including ones geared toward those with arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as general balance, stretching and aerobics.

    Barre workouts are also becoming more popular, and instructional videos can be found on Youtube or purchased on Amazon. The concept is simple: Use a ballet barre to balance while doing small strengthening exercises focused on a specific set of muscles. The workout was actually designed by a ballerina after a back injury as a kind of rehab combined with dance conditioning. (Don’t worry, there’s no dance experience required!) When done right, it’s said to improve core strength and enhance mobility. And it can be done barefoot.
  1. Indoor sports league. Sports leagues aren’t just for kids. Consider picking up a new sport – or getting back to one you haven’t played in a while. There are men’s, women’s and coed leagues for a wide variety of skill levels. If the traditional basketball and volleyball leagues aren’t your style, consider joining a dodgeball, inner tube water polo, bowling or even ping pong team. Indoor soccer and flag football leagues are also available.

    But don’t forget to properly prepare for game time. “I would recommend a couple nights of practice before starting out with your first league game,” says Courtney. “Do some jogging to warm up and practice whatever motions are needed for the sport.” If it’s bowling you choose, she suggests doing some trunk rotation (looking over your shoulder) and playing a few games to warm up.  If it’s volleyball, make sure to warm up your shoulder with some serves, ball throws and lateral (side-to-side) movements before game time.

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