When the temperature drops it can be tempting to curl up on the couch with a good book and stay there for the season. The cold (and humidity in some regions) exacerbates joint pain, but exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are important for our health. Here are some tips for protecting yourself so you can stay active and make the best of the winter months!

Stay warm, Invest in the proper attire.
Dress in layers that you can remove easily as you heat up, and wear water- and wind-proof fabrics to shield you from the cold. Hats and gloves will keep your body warmth from escaping through your extremities, and proper winter boots generally have better grip on the ground than regular shoes. Snow pants, while not the most elegant attire, will keep you warm and add extra cushioning in case of falls. To keep your knees warm and more stable you can use a knee sleeve, and if you do high-impact winter activities like skiing/snowboarding and skating you should consider wearing protective pads. If you might be running on snowy or icy areas, attach traction cleat pads to your shoes.

Don’t skip the warm-up! That’s how injuries happen.
Warming up is essential before any activity to help you loosen up your joints and reduce the risk of injury. It’s particularly important in the winter because the cold affects and swells the joints more. If you’re simply taking a walk, wait until a little later in the day so your body has time to loosen up and any pain meds have taken effect. Stretch and warm up indoors before heading out, and do cool-down stretches indoors after you finish your activity as well, to help you body acclimate.

High Impact Winter Sports are risky, make sure you have the proper technique!
The classic winter activities, such as skiing/snowboarding and skating, are high impact and can be especially intense on the legs and the hip and knee joints. To prevent injuries when skiing and snowboarding, practice proper form and technique, and always stay on marked trails so you don’t come across dangerous obstacles. Wear knee padding for protection, and ski poles as a balance aid while skiing.
Supplement your exercise routine with extra core and leg strengthening leading up to the season. As always, keep your particular limitations or prior injuries in mind, and don’t overwork yourself or jump back in too quickly after an injury.

Skating is a little riskier for those with hip and knee problems as the risk of falling, and of impacts while playing ice hockey, are high. If you’re a hockey player, try to avoid the rough and tumble side of the game, and if you skate purely for pleasure, take extra care not to fall.

Last but not least, have fun!
These are just a few tips for those with hip and knee problems. Remember that staying active in the winter is great for your physical and mental health. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it, It’s imperative to consult your doctor and know your physical limitations, but that shouldn’t hold you back from living your best life – even in the cold winter months!

Note:This blog is intended for educational purposes only, and is not an exhaustive resource regarding the topic discussed. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for you.