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This Winter is Rough on the Joints!

I like winter, with Christmas celebrations, the arrival of a New year and fresh perspectives. I feel efficient as the season evolves; these months are productive for me.

Now the feedback from my body is different. With the cold, damp weather, I start to feel my joints more, stiffness, and aches in my muscles without much change in my level of exercise. It is as if my body is sensing the weather change before I can see it with my own eyes. The knee with that old flare scar is painful on the morning of a rainy day, and that hip can signal to me it’s cold out there! During that time of year, I realize that I need to be more active.

Fresh air helps

It takes more time and effort to get the whole body warmed up with exercise in that season, particularly outdoors. So, it can be demotivating. Still, I go out every day, as I really appreciate the fresh air and getting out of the house. I either go for a walk or a bike ride. I went cycling sometimes with a friend on a longer cycle. I find it more motivating and nicer to share the day with a friend cycling and discovering a new place!

A friend told me recently that there’s no such thing as cold weather, the problem is the wrong gear. I agree with her, as I invested in some thermal tops and bottoms, a proper raincoat, waterproof trousers, and welly boots. If I am all geared up, I can enjoy being outside no matter the weather. Once I get going, if I keep moving, I am happy to be there and I feel the benefit when I get home.

This winter has been tougher

This winter has been tougher though because we have really cold weather and we have restrictions of movement because of the pandemic. So, I have felt more pain in my hips, knees, feet, lower back, and neck. I exercise every day, doing full-body stretches, somatics, yoga, walking, sometimes pilates. But the stiffness and aches are here, showing that this level of exercise is not enough to compensate the challenging winter we are having. Also, my calves are tighter and need to be stretched out more. If I walk on slippery surfaces because of the rain, snow, or ice, then these legs muscles are working hard to keep the balance while walking.

I also have small routines

Then I have put some self-care routines in place at home which helps to manage. I stretch my neck and shoulders every day as I tend to spend more time at the computer this winter, working from home, and having the same posture day after day. I use a heating pad designed for the back which sits on my desk chair. I enjoy that heat in my back while I am working at my desk! I think my next purchase will be heated sleepers as I feel my feet could benefit from more heat.

Another treat for me in winter is a hot bath with Epsom salts. On Saturdays, I go to a farm and I spend time with horses, go for a hack, do stable and field chores. Whilst I absolutely love that day out, it can be tough on my body. When I go home, that hot bath with specific salts to relax muscles, reduce any swelling and relieve pain, is the best way to finish my day.

Self-massage is great

One last thing I do more in winter is massaging the tender zones around painful joints. When I get arthritis in my feet, massaging them morning and evening with some tiger balm really helps with the pain. I recently started using Arnica oil for my lower back when it is sore and that also works well. Finally, for the tight legs muscles, I use a heat massage cream made with essential oils to relieve tensions and aches. I find self-massage beneficial both physically and mentally because I can help myself with my hands. This is empowering and easy to do at home.

I do miss my cardio exercise this winter, which I normally get when I cycle. Cycling has been difficult this year because of the snow and ice. I am thinking of getting an exercise bike, or a stand for my road bike, so I can cycle indoors. I will be interested in hearing what others have done to exercise indoors, any equipment they have got which work for them?

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