If you have severe joint pain in winter, try ‘walking in place’

picture explanationChoi Jeong-yoon Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital (provided by Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital)

In winter like these days, more and more people visit the hospital for joint pain. There are several correlations between cold weather and joint pain. When atmospheric pressure decreases in winter, the air pressure applied to our body also decreases, causing swelling of muscles, ligaments, joints, and soft tissues and stimulating nerves. As the temperature drops, the muscles and ligaments stiffen, and the joint area may feel stiff. Pain and muscle cramps often occur in joints at the extremities of the body, such as the hands and toes, as blood circulation is not smooth.

There are two main ways to reduce joint pain in winter.

First, it warms the body. Keeping warm is important, and special attention should be paid to keeping the head and limbs warm, which emits a lot of body heat. It is also good to apply a warm compress to the pain caused by arthritis. Wearing a knee band can also help reduce pain by increasing joint stability and preventing the joint from being exposed to the cold.

Second, moderate physical activity. If you are not physically active, your joints will become stiff and muscle strength will decrease, which can make joint pain worse. ‘Walking in place’ can be helpful in these days when it is difficult to use gyms and other sports facilities due to the COVID-19 crisis. Walking in place is a useful exercise that allows you to not get bored while watching TV or listening to music even in a small indoor space. Aerobic exercise is effective for weight loss, strengthens cardiorespiratory function, and can also improve balance and flexibility. It helps to prevent osteoporosis as it has the effect of increasing bone density in the spine.

Walking in place can be done in a variety of ways. It is good for the healthy young generation to walk rhythmically with their knees raised high and their arms wide waving as if they were doing so-called ‘power walking’. It is a method that can maximize the effect of aerobic exercise and the amount of exercise. On the other hand, it is recommended that the elderly, arthritis patients, or those who have undergone arthroplasty perform the procedure slowly while holding an orthosis or a doorknob and paying attention to the fall. Slow walking in place, as if holding a standing position on one leg for a while, not only improves your sense of balance, but also develops hip muscles such as the gluteus medius muscle.

Choi Jeong-yoon, professor of orthopedic surgery at Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, said, “In these days, where outdoor activities are difficult due to cold weather and Corona 19, you can safely keep joint health by walking in place. The speed, intensity, time, and frequency of walking in place may vary depending on your age and health condition, but we recommend that you do it three times a week for at least 30 minutes.”

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