Even if [in your mind] you like winter, the likelihood is that your body disagrees. On the other side of the coin, if you’re like me, this information will only fuel the fire of becoming a “snow bird”. Perhaps it will even give you a reason 😉
In winter, our soft tissues become aggravated. This means they’re far more likely to get upset with you.
Muscular aggravation can be both felt and actually heard. You may have already noticed that you become “crackier” in colder temperatures. And whilst that noise does indeed come from the joint, the surrounding musculature contributes to this by pulling more on the joint.
When there is greater pull on the joint from all sides, it doesn’t get to move as much. It’s kind of like being in an internal brace. Stagnation of the joint leads to a greater and more frequent accumulation of nitrogen gas inside the joint (the gas that forms bubbles inside the joint that creates the cracking noise).
As a side-note, that is also the reason sitting at a desk without moving makes you crackier.
In winter, we have this increased tensional force around the joints because our muscles have higher resting tone. [Muscle tone is our baseline degree of muscle contraction].
Why does this happen?
When it’s colder outside, our bodies have to work harder to produce more heat. One of the main ways we produce heat in the body is through muscular contraction. So, in winter our nervous system recognizes the need for more heat and tells the muscles to contract more frequently, and to be more readily available for contraction! [This is more noticeable the colder we get, exemplified by shivering].
How does this make our muscles angry?
Going back to our original note about muscles being angry in winter, an increase in resting tone can lead to an increase in pain!
Specifically, we are more likely to activate trigger points when our muscles are more active and with higher tone (and with less blood flow than if it were warm). Active trigger points are the little monsters that are responsible for a huge number of our common pain conditions we collectively experience.
Have you ever had “sciatica”? (Actually, you probably haven’t really…it’s probably bee active trigger points in the piriformis muscle!). Or have you woken up with a “spasm” in your neck after sleeping funny? (you probably didn’t sleep much different to any other night, and your muscle is not really in spasm…it’s most commonly an active trigger point, or a group of them!).
And one more question:
Have you ever noticed how these things tend to happen more frequently in winter?
As a global statement, that obviously has exceptions, this means that we experience more pain during the winter. It also means then, that we SHOULD be seeking more massage in the winter to help us manage our pain through trigger point therapy.
In essence, this is actually the justification you needed to join us at Navina Costa Rica for the winter months. Well, you didn’t really need the justification, but I’m sure someone wanted you to explain why you’re going for so long. And when it comes to your health (and pain reduction), there’s not much argument now. 😉
In all seriousness though, have you noticed how your tissues change in response to temperature?
Check out these reads: “Ticklish? If Yes, It Could Mean You’re Really Tense” & ““Hungry Tissues” – How Do We Know Where To Apply Pressure?“.