Winter Weather Calls for Joints Care

Shoulders, elbows, knees need tending

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SUNDAY, Feb. 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- When participating in winter activities, think water, water, water.

Not to swim in, of course, but to drink. Dehydration on top of cold winter temperatures can worsen blood circulation, which can cause your joints to ache when the snow falls.

"Not drinking enough water, having too many caffeinated drinks and smoking -- when this combination happens in the wintertime, you are much more susceptible to the cold," says Dr. David Halsey, an orthopedic surgeon.

The reason, he says, is that a lack of water together with caffeine and tobacco all constrict your blood vessels, making it harder for your blood to circulate in the cold weather.

"Winter sports then become a challenge to the joints," he adds.

Shoulders, elbows, knees and wrists all become more vulnerable to injury.

The answer, he says, is to make sure you drink as much water in the wintertime as you do in the summertime, dress warmly in layered clothing, and keep your body fit.

The University of Michigan Health System makes this recommendation: Indoor conditioning using the muscles that will get the most use outdoors is good; everyone should stretch and do a warm-up activity before putting on their gear, to increase performance and reduce the risk of pulling a muscle or tearing a ligament.

More information

Some tips on preparing for a healthy winter can be found here.

SOURCE: David Halsey, M.D., associate clinical professor, orthopedic surgery, Dartmouth Medical College, Hanover, N.H.; University of Michigan Health System

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