The importance of stretching in the winter season

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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You really do need to look after your body better in winter months. And believe us, stretching exercises can help!

Many of us want to wrap ourselves up under duvets and not step out of the house in the winter season. The cold days really impact our bodies, and you have to make sure that you practice enough physical exercise to resist the urge to be in a blanket. But this can lead to issues with your health. Some basic stretching exercises can charge you up.

So, how can winter impact your body?

Dr Raghu Nagaraj, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedics and Bone and Joint Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru, tells HealthShots, “Cold weather causes muscles to lose more heat and contract, causing tightness throughout the body. Joints get tighter, muscles can lose their range of motion and nerves can more easily be pinched.” 

stretching in winter
Stretch yourself once a day! Image courtesy: Shuterstock

So, what’s the solution?

Winter can cause pain in the joints and the muscles. The muscles also constrict in colder weather and are more prone to dehydration, cramping, and spasm, which is why warm-up sessions and stretching are so crucial in lower temperatures. So the solution to deal with the winter problem is STRETCHING!

The importance of stretching or warm up in winter season

The ideal warm up routine will raise your core temperature, increase blood flow to muscles and will engage the central nervous system – reducing the muscles and joints stiffness, which is common in this season. This is how it can help:

1. Stretching can help treating arthritis and fibromyalgia

Dr Nagaraj says, “Fibromyalgia and arthritis are just two of many conditions that make sufferers more susceptible to the effects of cold weather.”

Since the joints and muscles are already experiencing problems, the change in temperature exacerbates the pain they are already experiencing. But regular stretching can certainly combat stiffness, pain and improve general well being. 

2. Prevent muscle ache

To prevent muscle aches in colder weather, always stretch and have a warm-up session to get your muscles well hydrated, loose, and ready for activity. Keep yourself warm by wearing layers of clothing to prevent the forces from constricting in the cold, and practice good general health.

stretching in winter
Stretching can prevent muscle cramps. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Reduce the chances of injury

Without usual quickness or elasticity, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are at a higher risk for strains, pulls, tears, and other types of injury. In fact, cold weather may also exacerbate existing injuries by causing an already bothersome muscle or tendon to tense up or tighten. Although stretching on a regular basis can strengthen your muscles, which lets your body feel and move better. The right exercises and modalities help a lot in decreasing your joint pain and improve overall mobility.

So, now that it’s winter, it’s really important to remember to stretch everyday!

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