Does your joint pain and stiffness seem to get worse with bad weather? If so, you’re not alone. Many people claim to be able to predict incoming cold weather by the stiffness and pain in their joints.
One of the main theories as to why cold weather would cause stiffness in the joints has to do with barometric pressure – the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us. Before cold weather sets in, barometric pressure often drops, pushing less against the body and allowing tissues to expand. When our tissues expand, they put extra pressure on the joints, thus causing stiffness and pain. People who have chronic pain often develop more sensitized nerves over time, making them more sensitive to changes in pressure or feelings of pain.
Whether you have arthritis or general joint pain and stiffness, if you find yourself experiencing winter stiffness, it is important to keep moving (1). Evidence shows that exercise and stretching helps to:
Suffering from a sore neck, back and shoulders? Get our mobility guide to ease pain and soreness.
Get The FREE Mobility Guide To Fix Your Pain Today!
- Increase blood flow to the area
- Increase the flow of oxygen to the stiff areas
- Increase range of motion
- Improve physical function
- Improve physical and mental relaxation and wellbeing
If you are feeling stiff and achy this winter season, use these eight easy stretches to loosen up.
Seated Side Stretch | Hold 30 sec per side
This easy stretch helps to open up the hips, back, shoulders, and triceps.
- Begin in a seated position on the ground with your legs crossed.
- Sit up tall and inhale to reach both arms above your head.
- Exhale and place your left hand on the ground. Bend slightly into the left arm and reach your right arm up and over your head. Keep both of your sitting bones on the floor and you should feel a stretch through your right side. Hold for 30 seconds and then rise back up to center. Switch sides.
Cat Cows | 8 reps
These two classic yoga poses help to warm the spine and activate the core.
- Start kneeling down on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Line up your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Engage your abs.
- Cow pose: Inhale to arch your back, lowering your belly towards the ground and pointing your tailbone up. Squeeze your shoulders down your back and keep your neck long.
- Cat pose: Exhale to round your spine, tucking your pelvis under and drawing your chin into your chest. Continue alternating between your cow and cat pose for eight full rounds of breath.
Thread the Needle | Hold 30 sec per side
This stretch helps to release tension in the upper back and shoulders.
- Begin on the floor on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Lift your right hand up off the mat and thread your right arm underneath your left arm, bringing your right shoulder and cheek to the mat.
- Walk your left fingers towards the top of the mat and feel a stretch between your shoulder blades. Stay for 30 seconds and then slowly come back up to your tabletop position. Switch sides.
Downward Facing Dog | Hold 30 sec
This yoga pose is great for warming the body. It stretches the hamstrings, calves, back, and shoulders while also strengthening the arms, shoulders, and back.
- Start kneeling down in your tabletop position. Walk your hands forward a couple of inches and tuck your toes under.
- Press into your palms and lift your hips towards the ceiling to make a V-shape with your body. If your lower back is tight, keep a bend in your knees.
- Press your chest back towards your thighs and engage your abs to lift up through your tailbone. Feel a stretch through the back of your body. Hold for 30 seconds.
Bound Standing Forward Fold | Hold 30 sec
This stretch helps to release the shoulders, lower back, and the hamstrings.
- Start by standing up with your feet slightly wider than hips-width distance.
- Take your hands behind your lower back and interlace your fingers. Bring your palms together to touch if you can.
- Bend your knees and inhale to find a long spine. As you exhale, keep your hands interlaced and fold your chest over your thighs. Allow the hands to lift away from your lower back, stretching the shoulders. Keep your knees bent enough so that your chest can rest on your thighs and let your head hang heavy. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly rise back up to stand.
Toe Squat with Wrist Stretch | 10 reps per side
This stretch works wonders for tight feet, ankles, and legs. Plus the extra wrist stretch relieves stiff and achy hands and wrists.
- Begin on the floor in a tabletop position. Tuck your toes under and slowly walk your hands back towards your legs to lower your hips onto your heels.
- Sit your hips onto your heels and walk your hands up your thighs to lift your chest. You should feel the stretch through your feet, ankles, and quadriceps.
- Take your hands in front of your chest and interlace your fingers. Begin to circle the wrists around clockwise 10 times. Then, circle them counterclockwise 10 times. When you are finished, release your hands back down to the mat. Walk your hands back out to your tabletop position and untuck your toes.
Seated Figure 4 | Hold 30 sec per side
This stretch helps to relieve pressure and tightness in the hips, quadriceps, and lower back.
- Begin in a seat on the floor.
- Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor. Then, bend your right knee and cross your right ankle over your left thigh.
- Flex both of your feet and sit up with a tall spine. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
*Tip: To feel more sensation in your hips, use a hand to press on the thigh of the crossed leg to open up the hip even more.
Gentle Supine Twists | 30 sec per side
This relaxing stretch relieves stiffness in the spine.
- Start by lying down on the floor with your knees bent and your feet down.
- Cactus your arms so that your elbows are in line with your shoulders. Then, keep your knees bent and pick your feet up off the ground. Parallel your shins to your mat and draw your navel up and in towards your spine to engage your core.
- On an exhale, lower your knees towards the right. Make sure to keep your left shoulder down and use your right hand to deepen the twist. Close your eyes and hold for 30 seconds. Then inhale to lift your knees back to center and exhale to switch sides.
(Your Next Workout: 7-Day Weight Loss Bodyweight Workout Challenge)