Does being cold make your muscles ache
Cold weather can tighten the muscles and joints, leading to muscle aches and pain.

Cold weather can tighten the muscles and joints, leading to ache and pain, restricted motion, and decreased flexibility.

Cold weather or being cold can trigger or aggravate already existing muscle problems or can bring new-onset muscle ache in several ways:

  • Losing heat
  • Contraction of muscles
  • Changes in blood flow
  • Prone to dehydration
  • Lower air barometric pressure
  • Muscles undergo cramping and spasms
  • Tightness throughout the body

Muscle pain in cold weather is a very common problem. If you are an athlete or perform just basic exercises once in a while, it can significantly affect day-to-day activities.

How does cold weather affect the muscles and joints?

Our body needs blood flow to keep us warm and working.

During winter, some of the blood flow is rerouted naturally by the body toward vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys to keep them functioning. This deprives the joints and muscles of warmth, leading to aches and pain. The muscles tend to contract and lose more heat during winter. This may result in tightness throughout the body, a lower range of motion, and a higher likelihood of nerve compressions. All these can lead to aches and pain.

Moreover, cold weather causes lower air temperature and the air to contract, thus leading to lower barometric air pressure, in response to which the soft tissues around the joints expand creating restriction in the joints. This can result in muscle and joint pain.

What other symptoms are associated with muscle ache?

Depending on the cause, muscle ache can be mild or severe and may be associated with other symptoms such as:

What other conditions cause muscle pain?

Muscle ache or myalgia can be acute or chronic or delayed-onset muscle soreness that occurs after exercise and may involve the ligaments, tendons, and fascia (soft tissues that keep various body structures, including the muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and organs, in place).

Most cases of muscle ache are caused by:

Other conditions that can lead to muscle pain include:

How do I get my muscles to stop aching?

Muscle ache can be relieved by the following measures:

  • Gently stretch yourself
  • Avoid sitting for a long time
  • Take adequate rest and elevate the painful part
  • Massage the joints and muscles gently
  • Use ice packs to reduce inflammation
  • Use hot fomentation or a warm water shower to increase blood flow
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Do a proper warm-up and cool exercises
  • Do not push your limits while exercising
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Topical creams and gels that contain menthol or capsaicin, can ease muscle soreness
  • Try alternative techniques such as meditation and acupuncture
  • Consult your doctor for the diagnosis and treatment of any underlying health conditions

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Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Muscle Pain Cleveland Clinic : https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17669-muscle-pain

Kenneth Chakour It’s cold outside! Do your joints hurt UChicago Medicine: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/prevention-and-screening-articles/its-cold-outside-do-your-joints-hurt