Managing Your Aches and Pains in the Winter

Laura Akgerman Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility

Anyone with aches & pains knows that cold weather makes everything hurt a little more, and makes it harder to work and get everything done. According to Professor Robert H Shmerling, MD, at the Harvard Medical School, weather may or may not have an impact on your arthritis pain, but there may be “a connection between weather and joint symptoms… researchers have been unable to figure out just what matters most about the weather and arthritis symptoms or why there should be a connection”.  While you cannot control the weather, you can control how to react to it, and how to manage your health, wellness and productivity.

If you will be working outside in cold weather:

  • Wear layers of clothing, keep an extra pair of gloves with you (in case one pair gets wet)
  • Wear a hat that covers your head and ears, and use the hood on your coat or sweatshirt to keep out drafts
  • Take short, frequent breaks to warm up, and don’t overexert – yourself, energy is required to keep muscles warm
  • If you are working in remote areas, try to work with someone else, and carry your cell phone in case you need to call for help

The Arthritis Foundation of Washington reports “a lack of physical activity will cause joints to become stiff. Exercise eases arthritis pain. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue”.

Stay active and healthy over the winter:

  • Include stretching, strengthening and endurance activities in your daily routine
  • Plan your day to alternate between difficult and easier tasks, do the most strenuous tasks early, when you have the most energy
  •  Sit when possible to minimize stress on your joints
  •  Be mindful of proper techniques for lifting, carrying, bending and reaching overhead
  • Use labor saving devices when possible
  • Transport items by cart rather than carrying them

For more information about Ohio AgrAbility visit or contact Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility & OSU Extension, 614-247-7681.