Canadian summers are amazing because we get more sun and more opportunities to be outside. The city truly comes alive! Unfortunately, with the heat comes humidity, which can worsen inflammation and create a constant feeling of discomfort. This is especially true for those with chronic pain, like those living with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
At Duval Orthopaedic Clinic, we want to give all of our patients the tools they need to not only take care of their joints, but also live fulfillingly. We know that for many, that sense of fulfillment comes from being with loved ones, exploring the outdoors, and not being confined to a chair or bed.
So here are a few tips on how to manage your joint pain and have an exciting, memorable summer.
1- Water is your friend
The first step to managing pain and becoming more active involves keeping hydrated. Drinking more water may seem obvious, but most people do not drink enough. Considering joint cartilage is made of 60% water, it’s important to stay properly hydrated. Happy cartilage means less pain and a larger range of motion!
It’s recommended to drink 8 to 10 cups of water per day, so bring a refillable bottle wherever you go. You should also avoid consuming things that cause dehydration, like alcohol, coffee, salty foods, and sugary beverages. They may taste good, but they are not conducive to healthy joints, so consume them in moderation!
2- Avoid overheating, stay cool!
The heat and humidity can worsen inflammation and joint pain. If possible, try to remain in air conditioned environments. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, create an air current with fans, pushing the stale and humid air out of your home and keeping it at a more livable temperature.
If you want to go for a walk, head for forested areas and avoid the midday heat. If you want to lay down in a sunny area, bring a sun umbrella and stay close to a place where you can quickly cool down, such as a lake or pool. Getting fresh air is important to peace of mind, just be mindful of your body’s temperature.
3- Warm-up and be prepared
They say preparation is everything! Well, the same is true when wanting to jump right into activities. The most important thing you can do to minimize pain and avoid injuries is to properly prepare your body.
Start by warming up your joints. Do some light aerobics and slow stretches until you feel that your joints have loosened. Make sure to put braces on any joints that are more sensitive to injury, and avoid putting weight on them or moving them in unusual angles. Be prepared to take lots of breaks, and don’t hesitate to warn anyone you are with that you may need to slow down and occasionally sit on the sidelines. If you feel pain, do not push yourself! Listen to your body and be mindful of your limitations.
4- Fun in the sun: recommended activities
Going for walks is a fantastic exercise. Running or jogging can be damaging and painful when you have knee or hip pain, so walking offers an equally beneficial source of exercise while minimizing pain. Make sure to wear good shoes, have a person or a walking stick for support, and go on trails with dirt or grass that can lighten the impact of your footsteps. Whether you walk slowly or quickly, it will get your blood flowing and give you some fresh air.
A pool or a lake with calm waters is the best environment for both fun activities and maintaining your health. The water offers good support for your joints as it lightens impacts, so you can swim around at your leisure without fear of injury. Water aerobics are also a fantastic way to build strength and healthy bones.
Some other great activities to consider are golfing, canoeing, bowling, gardening, yoga, and many more!
Find your summer joy
Joint pain can make life more difficult, but it does not need to affect your enjoyment of life. While chronic pain is nothing to take lightly, there are many ways to help deal with it and find ways to beat the heat. If you stay hydrated, stay cool, warm up, and do low-impact activities, there is a good chance you will find yourself at the end of the summer feeling healthier and full of new memories to cherish.
If you are experiencing joint pain and want to consult with a doctor, feel free to reach out to the Duval Orthopaedic Clinic and we will book you in for a consultation within 2 weeks!