Spring is the time for new beginnings. For some, that means cleaning and organizing while for others it’s time to get back to the seasonal sports that require sun, grass, and fresh air. For most of us, spring means it’s time to get back outside and do the things you love. But this bright and flowery seasonal shift might mean flare-ups in joint pain for those with arthritis, as predictable as the melting snow to so many of us.
Let’s take a look at why some people experience increased arthritis pain during spring, and a few steps you can take to minimize and combat it.
What triggers spring arthritis flare-ups?
Often, you can put a finger on what might trigger an arthritis flare-up — a series of high-cholesterol, inflammatory meals, perhaps, or a harder-than-normal workout on the tennis court. Other times it’s not something you can control at all, like the change of the seasons. Atmospheric pressure changes can trigger arthritis, led by increased humidity as spring rains blow in.
Low atmospheric pressure, also sometimes referred to as barometric pressure, often occurs right before a spring rainstorm hits. This can cause increased pain in the joints and in the back, accented even more if you live somewhere that doesn’t regularly experience significant rain as your body may not be adjusted to these pressure changes.
How to minimize the impacts
Stretching your affected areas can help as well. Light yoga poses or even simple stretches keep joints loose and help you move about better. That movement may be critical to help minimize pain, not only because stagnation worsens it, but because being active helps you maintain body weight and thus prevent added pressure on the joints.
It’s important to take it slow, though, especially when getting back to season outdoor activities like lawn care and gardening. After months of not taking part in these activities, don’t over-do it the first day out there. There’s no need to plant your entire garden in one day, and likewise, one set of tennis or pickleball may be enough on Day 1 of the season.
Try to time your outdoor activity to coincide with good weather. This statement on its own seems to go without saying, but it can actually take some advance planning. If you tend to garden in the morning after breakfast, look at the weather forecast the evening before and try to time the end of breakfast with a set temperature, like 60 degrees.
Beyond preventing the need for a jacket, this helps your joints acclimatize to spring and to the increased action of being in the garden. If you play tennis in the afternoons, the same thing applies, though inverted. When possible, try to end your match (or activity, what that may be) based on when the temperature is expected to dip below a certain amount, or a big shift in weather is expected to hit.
Remember that it’s the change in atmospheric pressure that is causing increased joint pain. By keeping yourself from the worst in fluctuations of humidity, temperature, and other noticeable weather patterns, you are minimizing (though not entirely eliminating) the impacts they can have on your joints.
Every little bit helps!
Exercises and activities to try in the spring to combat inflammation
Adding certain activities to your routine can also help combat the spring inflammation bite. In addition to stretching, increasing your daily step count can help ankles and knees. This is an easy thing to do, as a simple morning walk or stroll around the block at lunch can make a noticeable difference. Group fitness classes like pilates and yoga can help as well, if you have access to them, particularly because they focus on keeping you loose and agile.
If you play tennis or pickleball, spring is a great time to work on your doubles game. Having a partner with you on the court prevents the amount of short sprints you have to do, and also cuts back on the large and off-center lunges required to keep the ball in play, and that so often add strain to the joints and muscles.
Switching to a stand-up desk, at least for part of the day or at interims of 15 to 20 minutes, can help desk workers from closing in their joints for hours on end. In many professions and hobbies, avoiding repetitive motion of the wrists is key.
And many people with arthritis in the knees find mellow cycling to reduce pain while simultaneously increasing the mobility and function of their knees. Take it easy — no need to ramp towards Iron Man training — but a couple 20-minute rides per week can have a tangible effect.
Complement your efforts with an omega-3 supplement
Your joints need omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation and function properly. To complement your efforts in stretching, exercising, and scheduling (kudos to you!), an omega-3 supplement like GLX3 can help you to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
GLX3 is made from New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Oil, sustainably harvested off the shores of New Zealand and extracted to ensure maximum impact in reducing inflammation. The mussel oil in GLX3 is aided by New Zealand Olive Oil, for added omega-3s, and Vitamin E Oil. GLX3 is shown to reduce inflammation and help you get back to doing what you love, which in the spring means getting outside welcoming that sunshine back into your life.
Here’s to doing just that.