7 Tips To Keep Joints Happy In The Heat
Have you noticed that your arthritis symptoms can get worse during the summer? When you’re hot, the amount of synovial fluid (the thick fluid between your joints which helps them move smoothly and cushions them so they don’t rub together) can fluctuate, leading to increased pain. Changes to barometric pressure - the pressure in the earth's atmosphere - can also contribute to arthritis pain, so you may find that your symptoms get worse during humid weather and rain.
You deserve to enjoy the summer months without pain holding you back, so we’ve compiled this list of 7 tips to keep your joints happy in the heat.
1. Keep Moving
The heat can make you feel tired and sweaty when moving around, but keeping active during the summer is one way to help keep your joints happy.
When it's really hot, as it has been over the last few summers, it can be easy to become inactive. But try to move as much as you can bear. Going up and down the stairs a few times can help. Going for walks is great to keep joints moving. If you find it too hot during the day, try going early in the morning or after the sun has set in the evening when the outside temperature is dropping.
Moving around increases synovial fluid in your joints, which can decrease pain. It also improves circulation, which sends much needed nutrients and oxygen to the joints. The hot weather can make you more sedentary, but it’s really important to keep moving all year round to improve your overall well being. Why not take a stroll through the park (don’t forget the sunscreen) or swim in an outdoor lido this summer?
2. Stay Hydrated
When you sweat, your body loses liquid which needs to be replenished to avoid dehydration.The synovial fluid and cartilage cell tissues need water to ensure they’re working correctly, so if you’re not consuming enough water you may feel that your pain levels increase. Dehydration can also lead to a number of health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, chills, fainting, hallucinations, seizure and (in extreme cases) heat stroke.
When out and about, make sure to carry a bottle of water with you. It can be tempting to drink more alcohol on a sunny day, but some drinks like alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you so make sure you’re also drinking water even when consuming other liquids. You can also up your water intake from refreshing fruit and vegetables such as cucumbers, watermelon, oranges, tomatoes and strawberries.
3. Dress Comfortably
It’s always important to feel comfortable in your clothes, but especially in summer you don’t want tight or ill-fitting material rubbing or tightening around your painful joints. Loose, comfy clothes can make it easier to move around and give your joints the room they need to not feel constricted. Black and dark clothing traps heat, whilst lighter colours reflect heat and can thus make you feel less hot, so avoid tight dark clothes and try out some loose fitting lighter colours.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important all year round because it can help take pressure off your joints and reduce pain.
Try to avoid thinking of yourself as being on a diet, because most diets that are too restrictive are destined to fail in the long run. Eat more fruit, vegetables and grains to fill you up, and try to eat less sugar. Colourful fruit and veg can be a treat meal on a summery day, and can also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Feeling bloated is never fun, but it can be especially uncomfortable when you’re also hot. Try eating water-rich fruits, tasty salads and light, nutrient-rich meals to make sure you feel healthy and energised in the heat.
5. Hot and Cold Treatment
Holding a cold water bottle or ice pack to your face or other part of your body doesn’t just cool you down during the summer months - it can also help reduce arthritis symptoms.
For some ice-packs can help sore joints in the heat but others will find hot water bottles are the way to go. There is no one-size-fits-all solution so the key is to find something that works for you and stick to it.
6. Get a Good Night's Sleep
It can be really hard to sleep when it’s humid, and a poor night's sleep can ruin your day.
Many peole struggle to sleep when it's hot and this is even more true of those living with joint pain. Being restless in the night can be even harder when living with joint pain as often moving can cause more pain and further disrupt sleep.
If you find yourself in bed unable to sleep for more than 20 minutes it's often a good idea to sit up and sit quietly for a while. You could try reading a book or just sitting and focus on your breathing can relax you. Avoid checking your phone as the blue-light these emit can stimulate the brain in a negative way when trying to get to sleep.
Avoiding caffeine, napping during the day and heavy meals after a certain time of day can also help achieve better sleep habits.
Get that Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, muscles and immune system, and you get most of it from the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Around one in five adults in the UK are not getting enough Vitamin D, which makes sense when you consider our rainy and cloudy climate. A hot summer day is a great chance to up your Vitamin D intake, but make sure you don’t over do it! Some medications for arthritis can make your skin more sensitive to light, so check your package leaflet and ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
People with lighter skin may need just ten minutes of direct exposure to the sun rays, whilst those with darker skin may need around 25 minutes. It can be tempting to spend all day sunbathing, but too much sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer and give you nasty sunburn. It’s a good idea to spend the hottest part of the day (around 11am-3pm) in the shade, wear at least SPF15 sunscreen, and cover up with loose fitting, cool clothing and a hat to protect your face.
What are your tips for keeping your joints happy and healthy in the warmer months? Let us know on Facebook.