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Have a Happy Healthy Holiday and New Year | Tips to Keep Winter Joint Pain Away

While the winter season is full of festive fun, it can also bring winter joint aches and pains. The cold makes our muscles tense up. This tension can lead to less mobility and flexibility in the joints. To some degree, feeling slower and stiffer in the winter is natural. It doesn’t help that the holiday season is associated with weight gain, which can lead to a myriad of orthopedic issues.   

Fortunately, taking a few precautions can help mitigate the aches and pains of the season while you keep up with holiday fun! Here are our tips to help you combat winter joint pain and help you feel better during the holidays.   

Keep it Balanced  

In the winter months, especially during the holiday season, a well-balanced diet keeps your body healthy and energized. This will help you avoid feeling run down with body aches and pains. Plus, a poor diet also leads to excess weight gain. This puts excessive strain on your joints and can lead to joint pain or other issues.  Weight control can also help ease osteoarthritis and other degenerative problems.  

This doesn’t mean avoiding food! The holidays only arrive once a year, and denying too many special treats can lead to excess stress. The key to a healthy holiday diet lies in keeping your consumption balanced. Be sure to incorporate healthy meals to make up for the treats you will enjoy throughout the season.   

Tips for a Balanced Holiday Diet:  

  • Incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains into your meals wherever possible.   
  • Holiday treats lurk around every corner! Enjoy treats in moderation and say no occasionally.   
  • Pick and choose. Indulge your favorite holiday treats and avoid unnecessary calories wherever possible. Understand the idea of “calories in versus calories out”.   


Hydration is Key  

While eggnog, apple cider, and hot buttered rum may all be delicious seasonal beverages, it’s also important to have classic water in your holiday beverage rotation. Party foods and drinks tend to be higher in sodium, fat, and sugar, leaving you feeling parched.   

Hydration is always important, but especially so in the winter months. The dry winter air can contribute to feeling tired and achy. Plus, dehydration can also be confused for hunger, so drinking water makes you feel fuller and more energetic. This can help to prevent that extra holiday weight gain that leads to excess stress on your bones and joints.  

Tips for Holiday Hydration:  

  • Bring a refillable water bottle to your holiday gatherings.  
  • Trade off one glass of water per alcoholic holiday drink to avoid dehydration.   
  • If you aren’t a fan of plain water, try sipping a cup of warm tea.  
  • Incorporate bone broths and soups into your diet for healthy hydration.   
  • Aim for about eight glasses of water per day.   
  • Gamify it! Download hydration-tracking apps like Plant Nanny to make hydration fun.   

Monitor Stress  

As fun and joyful as the holiday season is, it also comes with stress. From finding the perfect gift for every loved one on your list to participating in holiday activities to planning your own holiday gathering, our to-do lists can run longer than usual during the holiday season.   

Excess stress can cause us to seek extra comfort. Whether it’s another cup of eggnog or a second slice of pie, feeling stressed out can lead to weight gain, leading to excess strain on your bones and joints.  

Also, accidents most often happen when we are stressed, distracted, frazzled, or overwhelmed. This can cause slips and falls, leading to more aches and winter joint pains.  

Tips for Monitoring Stress During the Holidays 

  • Take it slow. Don’t rush anything and pay attention to avoid slips and falls.  
  • Lower stress and cut out a few commitments. Narrow your holiday plans to the activities that bring you joy.   
  • Make time for activities that keep you feeling relaxed and healthy.   
  • Embrace routine. Schedule your time around daily activities that bring you peace, such as exercise routine, meal plans, or scheduled time with family and friends. Keep important health markers, such as your mealtimes and bedtimes consistent.  
  • Aim for eight hours of sleep per day. Restful sleep is essential for your mental and physical health.   

Work Movement into the Season  

During the colder winter months, our instinct can be to stay cozy under blankets or stay in bed longer than usual. While rest is extremely important during the winter months, it is also important to keep moving.   

While you may feel less motivated, keeping active and fit will help to reduce stress and winter weight gain and also keep your joints moving to avoid aches and pains.   

Tips for Exercise During the Holiday Season:  

  • Try a low-impact activity like indoor swimming, stretching with yoga or Pilates, brisk walking, and weight training.   
  • Find time to work out by maintaining a consistent routine.   
  • Embrace the winter season. Try a fun outdoor activity like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or ice skating.   
  • Let it snow! Instead of staying inside when it snows, take out your shovel to get some exercise while making your home safer. If you do go to shovel snow, be sure to take the proper precautions to avoid injury.   
  • Incorporate a walk with family or friends during holiday gatherings to keep the movement up while spending time with loved ones.   
  • Play holiday music during a workout to embrace the season while keeping it moving! 

While aches and pains are a natural part of winter, they shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the holidays. If you’re concerned your winter joint pain is more than just the cold weather, Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin is here to help.   

Make an appointment today with an orthopedic specialist to get to the bottom of your pain. Request an appointment online or call (414) 961-6800. We’re here to help you move pain-free, no matter the season.   

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