Don’t get sidelined this winter

Last month, I shared with you some tips on keeping your joints and muscles comfortable as the weather turns colder.

Things like loading up on vitamin D, dressing for the weather, and proper stretching before any workout.

But I know for many of you, even the most prepared, joint and muscle pain is just inevitable when the cold weather sets in.

Health experts have some theories as to why joint and muscle discomfort increases in wintertime.

Some believe that as the temperature drops, your body begins to conserve heat, sending more blood to the organs in the center of your body like the heart and lungs.

When that happens, blood vessels around your extremities… the arms, legs, knees and shoulders… begin to constrict.

And the reduction in blood flow to those areas makes them stiff and causes pain.

Another theory is that a change in barometric pressure can trigger an inflammatory response in your joints which results in discomfort.

In truth, it doesn’t really matter what’s causing the pain.

You just want it to stop.

Some people escape to warmer climates for the winter to get out of the cold.

I sure have seen an increase in these “snow birds” down here in Florida since the beginning of November.

But I know that picking up and moving for a few months is not realistic for most of you.

To help keep you active and off the sidelines this season, here are some tips to ease the aches and pains brought on by the cold.

First thing you want to do is pay close attention to your body.

Are you feeling a little discomfort and tightness… or sharp, debilitating pain when exercising?

If it’s the latter, stop what you’re doing and get checked out by a doctor.

Exercise can cause some discomfort, but shouldn’t be painful.

(Whoever came up with the phrase “no pain, no gain” really didn’t know what they were talking about.)

If your discomfort isn’t of the stabbing-pain variety, check your posture and stance.

Are your feet in the proper position? Are you bending your knees enough… or not enough? Are your shoulders back and not slouched?

Correcting improper posture is one of the easiest ways to ease muscle and joint discomfort when exercising.

If you’re prone to developing muscles stiffness after a workout, try using a foam roller to loosen up tight spots.

Rollers are especially great for hips, knees and backs.

If you’ve never used a foam roller before, start with a soft one to make the experience as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

Feeling tightness in your shoulders, neck or upper back?

Apply some heat to loosen up the muscles.

And if you’re still feeling discomfort after heat, lay on the floor and place a rubber exercise ball or tennis ball under your body at the source of your discomfort.

Gravity will pull your body down, helping to release the tension in those targeted areas.

The last thing I want is for you to hibernate this winter.

Don’t let the cold weather and resulting joint discomfort keep you from regular exercise.

Prepare with proper clothing and stretching, pay attention to your body, and target discomfort, as needed, to stay active and healthy this winter.

And if you want a sneak peek into my personal defense against pain, click here.

About Jeff Reagan, Editor, Jeff Reagan's Daily Health Newsletter for Conservatives

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