Physiotherapy and the weather: How to stay active and manage pain all year round

Climate change is a topical subject of conversation, and at Physiopedia we understand that it is not only a threat to the environment but also to our health. As global temperatures continue to rise and weather patterns become more extreme, it is important to think about what this means for our physical health and wellbeing.

Extreme temperatures, increased humidity and bad weather can all have a negative impact on our physical health and wellbeing. For those who experience chronic pain or are recovering from an injury, changes in weather can be especially challenging. Our team has created some awesome pages to explain how reaching out to a physiotherapist can help to alleviate the negative effects of the weather on our bodies.

Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, is a healthcare profession that seeks to restore movement and function. Physiotherapists use a variety of techniques, including exercise, manual therapy and education, to help people manage pain and improve their overall health. 

Physiotherapists are synonymous with treating people recovering from injuries or surgeries, or those managing chronic conditions, such as arthritis. But did you know that physiotherapists are also experts when you need advice on how to manage symptoms that are affected by the weather?

Stay active and manage pain whatever the weather

When the weather is cold and damp, our muscles and joints can become stiff and painful. This is because the cold weather causes our blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood flow to our muscles and joints. This can make it difficult to move around and perform everyday activities. Cold weather can also increase the injury of cold weather-related injuries, such as slips and falls. A physiotherapist can help a person feel less pain by teaching them exercises to improve flexibility and range of motion. They may also use techniques such as massage or manual therapy to help relax tight muscles and mobilise joints.

On the other hand, hot and humid weather can also have an impact on our bodies. When the weather is hot, our bodies have to work harder to cool down. This can lead to fatigue and increased muscle soreness. As well as suggesting exercises and stretches to improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce fatigue, Physiotherapists can also give advice on how to stay cool and hydrated to minimise and manage heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

Both cold and hot weather, along with increased air pollution, can lead to respiratory problems. Cold weather can cause the airways to constrict, making it difficult to breathe. This is especially true for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions, such as COPD (chronic obstruction pulmonary disease). Additionally, increased humidity can make it difficult to breathe, which can be especially problematic for those with respiratory conditions. A physiotherapist can provide exercises and techniques to help increase endurance and improve breathing as well as using techniques such as chest physiotherapy, which helps to remove mucus from the lungs and improve lung function.

Climate change is also affecting the distribution and transmission of infectious diseases. As temperatures rise, the range and distribution of disease-carrying insects and animals expands, increasing the risk of infection. For example, warmer temperatures make it possible for mosquitoes to survive and breed in areas where they previously could not. This makes it easier for diseases like malaria and dengue fever to spread more easily.

Through education and advice on home exercises from a physiotherapist, pain and injuries can be managed and in some cases prevented. Physiotherapists can even suggest ways to exercise indoors if the weather is too extreme to go outdoors.

So if you are feeling “under the weather” and need advice on how to deal with your chronic pain or injury – find out how physiotherapy can help improve overall physical function and mobility. 

Physiopedia resources on the topic