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As the weather begins to cool, we feel aches and pains in new and old familiar places. This, in part, is due to a change in the air pressure. According to science, these changes can cause our tissues (including muscles and tendons) to swell or expand and exert pressure on the joints, causing increased pain and stiffness.

Pain deters us from being active, disrupts our sleep, affects our ability to focus and can lead to feelings of anxiety. Even the most committed of us can let healthy routines slip when we hurt.

It’s worth the effort to find solutions to relieve discomfort in the body and not let issues build into something truly restrictive. Usually, these seasonal triggers make us aware of areas that need attention. The hips, neck and shoulders and knees are often the offending sites. Old injuries or areas where conditions such as arthritis are present, are also culprits.

Most often, it all comes down to our blood circulation being able to bring nutrition to our tissues and remove the toxins. Increased swelling and tension can impede this exchange. This is why it is important to find solutions to prevent problems from escalating.

Massage Therapy is one of the best methods to keep our muscles conditioned. It helps to reduce swelling, improves circulation to all areas and aids in the recovery from an injury. It brings relief from pain, stress and tension and assists in improving problems caused by poor postural habits.

Long term, being able to stay mobile is the key to reducing stiffness and pain in muscles and joints. Taking mini-breaks during your work day to gently move can bring relief by improving circulation to the offenders, such as your shoulders, neck, low back or knees.

According to Dr. Adam Tenforde, assistant professor of sports medicine at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, “There are health benefits to exercising outdoors in cooler weather. It can improve your endurance as your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, we sweat less and expend less energy.”

Our muscles need to be kept warm to avoid risk of strains and injuries, so the warm-up component is very important. Dynamic versus static stretches are best. They help to loosen our joints, increase blood flow, warming our muscles.

Wearing layers that can be peeled off as our bodies warm helps to stabilize our body temperature. Body heat is lost through the head, hands and feet so keep these areas covered. Stay hydrated. We need fluids even though we may not be sweating as much.

At your next visit, ask your therapist for home care stretches that can help you stay active, flexible and strong.