Influenza and body aches
Symptoms of the flu include a fever, fatigue, weakness, headache, sore throat, blocked nose, chills and – you guessed it – aches. Aching muscles are thought to be caused by natural chemicals released by your body, to help your white blood cells fight the infection.
So, while uncomfortable, aches are often sign your body is working hard to get well. Most cases of flu clear up within two weeks, and if you catch it, the best thing you can do is get plenty of rest and sleep, and stay hydrated. If you’re eligible, you can also get the ’flu vaccine, available from your GP surgery.
Cold weather and body aches
‘People who suffer from arthritis may experience increased pain and stiffness during colder months,’ says Consultant Rheumatologist Dr Rod Hughes.
‘This may be because low barometric pressure has a physical impact on the joints, or that it encourages inflammation, making joint movement more painful. In addition, during cold weather the body focuses on circulating blood around the core and major organs, and away from muscles and joints. As a result, the joints may seem less flexible.’
Dr Hughes recommends staying active as much as possible. ‘Take regular, gentle exercise, like walking, swimming and yoga, to keep your joints, supporting muscles and ligaments strong and supple.’
Nutritional deficiencies and body aches
‘People often don’t associate joint issues with lifestyle choice and poor diet, but both these play a major role,’ says nutritionist, Angelique Panagos. ‘There are a number of structures in the joint – including bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and collagen – which need a good source of nutrients to keep healthy and in good condition. Key nutrients for joint health include vitamin D, Vitamin C and calcium.
‘I advise my clients to up their levels of foods such as broccoli, spinach, tart cherries, garlic, peppers, almonds, kale and tomatoes in particular for these nutrients. In addition, avoid foods that can increase inflammation, such as high-sugar foods.’
Stress and body aches
Feeling stressed, uptight and tense is likely to have an effect on your physical wellbeing.
‘Aside from more complex reasons that people often get bogged down in, the postural consequences of stress are quite simple, and explain the aching shoulders, back and neck often mentioned by patients,’ says Fatica.
‘If you’re stressed, you will tend to crouch over in a ‘protective’ posture, slouching and rounding the shoulders with the head forwards. This increases the mechanical stress and strain on the spine and muscles, leading to joint aches and pains.’
Delayed onset muscle soreness
If you’re new to exercise, or have recently increased your workouts, the pain you’re experiencing could be the result of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This soreness is normally experienced 24 to 72 hours after a new or intense workout, and is the result of tiny tears in your muscle fibres.
While this might sound bad, don’t panic! DOMS is perfectly normally and is absolutely nothing to worry about – in fact, once your body has repaired the minor damage, your muscles will be stronger. It’s fine to perform gentle exercise during DOMS – in fact, this should help to ease the soreness. Walking, swimming or yoga are all recommended.
Bad posture and body aches
Unless it’s linked to physical trauma, such as whiplash, the majority of neck and back pain can be linked to bad posture.
‘Poor posture is one of the most common causes of generalised lower back and neck aches,’ confirms Fatica. ‘The long-term implications of ignoring this can be manifold, but commonly leads to wear and tear issues, osteoarthritis or spondylosis, to name a few.’
If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, it’s worth checking in with a specialist, such as an osteopath, who can help correct your posture.
A medical condition and body aches
If you’re experiencing aches and pains in relation to your joints, it could be that you have a medical condition. ‘The most common type of joint pain is osteoarthritis, affecting about 8.5 million people in the UK,’ explains TV medic and London-based GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis.
‘This gets more common with age and is more likely if you have previously injured a joint. It occurs when the cartilage lining your joints becomes worn, and the two sides of the joint grate against each other. This usually causes pain at first only when you move and should be relieved by rest.’