Freezing temperatures, icy winds and slippery snow aren't just bone-chilling. They can also wreak havoc on your body in surprising—and avoidable—ways. Whether it`s arthritis, sinus problems, general muscle aches, or winter-related injuries, the colder months can bring on a host of potential ailments due to:
Low temperatures- Cold muscles and joints can stiffen and ache; cold extremities can cause soreness and painful tingling. Large fluctuations in body temperature can also stress your immune system, and cold air can trigger runny noses and asthma.
Too low, or too high, humidity- Winter-time dry air can irritate sinuses and other mucus membranes, and make skin itchy. High humidity can make conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia even more painful, as the dampness makes the ailments more acute.
Winter activities can also wreak havoc on your body, whether they are tedious or enjoyable.
So what can you do?
As obvious as it may sound, the best way to stay well is to stay warm! Whether inside or out, keeping your body temperature as close to normal is key. Avoid drafts and dress in layers to allow for you to adjust your comfort level as needed.
Stay hydrated. Because dehydration can cause muscle cramps, lethargy, and general soreness, drink sufficient fluids to keep you hydrated. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Use a saline spray to ease nasal dryness.
Stretch before activities and don`t overdo it. Muscles that are properly warmed up tend not to get strained as easily. If you`re doing an activity you`re not used to on a regular basis, start slowly and know your exhaustion point.
Try supplements and "light therapy". Expose yourself to more sunshine if possible by getting outside or by using natural spectrum lighting in your home. It`s thought this will balance serotonin levels and help your general mood and body functions. Also try Vitamin D supplements- the vitamin you get naturally from sunshine. Studies have shown that taking the supplements can reduce soreness in the back and shoulders during the winter months for people who suffer from a lack of the vitamin.
Massage Therapy- Massage can increase blood flow and increase warmth to a stressed area, which may help relieve the pain associated with winter coldness. Massage promotes blood flow, loosens muscles and joints and promotes the clearing of lactic acid and other waste products which can impair joint and muscle movement and cause pain. It also lowers stress, possibly by restricting the functioning of cortisol - a stress hormone as well as enhancing the function of the immune system.
Remember -not every remedy will work for all people, and for severe illnesses and injuries you should seek a medical professional.