Your RA Winter Survival Guide

Don’t be scared by the chilly weather! With these strategies, you’ll thrive with rheumatoid arthritis all season long.

Katie Alberts
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Cold weather, RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Season

Not looking forward to colder temps and darker days? These clever tips will help you sidestep pain and stay stress-free throughout the season!

Pain-proof your daily chores

  • Sharpen your tools. “With so much chopping going on around the holidays, I get my knives sharpened professionally,” says cooking teacher Kathleen Finn. “It saves time and strain. And if you know you’ll be doing a lot of prep at someone else’s house, buy an inexpensive knife guard so you can bring your favorite chef’s knife with you!” 
  • Keep hands toasty. “My hands are sensitive to cold, so I slip on dishwashing gloves before handling frozen foods,” says Shelley Peterman Schwarz, author of Arthritis: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier. “You can also try glove liners for other indoor tasks—look for ones with wide cuffs so they’re easy to slip on and off.”
  • Balance your shopping. “I bring along two sturdy totes when I’m shopping and try to distribute weight equally between the two throughout the day,” says Hope Gillerman, a certified personal trainer. “Twenty pounds feels like 10 when you carry it this way!”

Keep your style sanity!

  • Slip on shapewear to warm up! Keep toasty on chilly nights by wearing Spanx. Former Mrs. Virginia and fibromyalgia sufferer Jennifer Phillips loves what the shape-wear does for her figure—and her fibro pain. “A lot of people don’t realize how warm they keep your muscles; I love them.” Just pick the shape-wear that’s right for you: If you expect to sit for a long time, try a pair that holds you in at the waist, to support your lumbar region. Going to dance the night away? Consider Spanx that extend to your legs to keep them warm and limber before you hit the ballroom floor.
  • Think low maintenance. “If my nails are a mess, I’m a mess,” says entertaining expert Michelle Palm. “So, during the holiday season, I stick to ballet slipper pink polish, which won’t show chips. Then if I’m going out and want to be more festive, I apply a coat of glittery polish on top.”

Outsmart snow and ice

  • Spray away” the snow. To make shoveling easier, Schwarz recommends applying an aerosol vegetable spray to the shovel—the snow will slide right off!
  • Bring out trekking poles. Designed with pointy ends, they make it easy to feel secure and balanced on the snow, says physical therapist John Gallucci Jr., founder of JAG Physical Therapy. Plus, you can use them come spring for walks around the neighborhood!
  • Stock up on hand warmers. “You can buy disposable ones and tuck them into your coat pocket,” says Wren Vandever of “Or invest in new rechargeable ones that can be used over and over.”
  • Apply for parking privileges. “Many people don’t know about temporary disabled parking permits, often available if a surgery or injury makes it difficult for you to get around,” notes Schwarz.
April 2013