Muscle Pains and Injuries in Cold Weather: 3 Questions Answered

Muscle pain is common in cold weather.

Ever notice that your back pain comes back as the cold weather starts creeping in? No, it’s not just your imagination. Cold weather is proven to increase the risk of muscle strains and tears. The drop in temperature might also seem to be accompanied by an uptick in migraines and arthritic pains. Let’s take a look at why this happens and how you may be able to prevent muscles injuries and other pains in the wintertime.

Muscle Injuries and Cold Weather Pains 101

Many people don't think muscle pain and injuries can be a product of cold weather.Why does cold weather lead to more muscle injuries?

Lower temperatures basically cause our muscles to stiffen. Picture a glob of Play-Doh that has been sitting in the cold for some time. If you tried to stretch it, it would probably tear or crumble apart. Now imagine it outside in warmer weather, or after you’ve warmed and worked the glob in your hands—it’s going to be a lot easier to stretch and work with.

That’s how our muscles and connective tissues work. Warmth relaxes muscles and tissues, so the lesson here is to dress appropriately for the weather and always warm up when exercising in colder temperatures. Even when not exercising, it’s a good idea to stretch all your body parts daily to get your blood circulating to your muscles.

Why does cold weather cause migraines and sinus pain?

There are different reasons why cold weather can cause migraines and sinus pain. First, cold weather constricts blood vessels, which can reduce circulation throughout your body, including your head. Changes in weather can also cause chemical imbalances in the brain that can lead to migraine pain. If you are prone to cold weather migraines, try to avoid drafts as much as possible, and cover up your head and face when you go outdoors.

Cold, dry weather can also lead to sinus pain. Upper respiratory infections that typically happen during the winter can clog the sinuses, which can prevent them from equalizing air pressure. This pressure can lead to pain around the eyes and forehead. Doctors recommend using nasal saline and a humidifier to hydrate the sinuses during dry weather periods .

Why does cold weather cause arthritic pain?

Although the reasons for arthritic pain in cold weather aren’t confirmed, some doctors believe it comes down to the constricting effect of cold weather. Just as cold weather constricts your blood vessels and muscles, it also constricts the tissues around your joints. Other doctors believe it’s the change in barometric pressure or joint fluid thickness that happens in colder weather that’s responsible. Doctors recommend staying active and eating foods with vitamin C, vitamin K, and omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation around the joints.

Need some tips to treat painful migraines? Read Hospitality Health ER’s 6 Tips for Treating Migraine Pain.