Winter Woes + Remedies


Winter Woes


And how to fix them

Though initially people may view winter as a fun and busy time packed with various holiday celebrations, eating nourishing food or winter sports, for many people it is also a time of body aches and emotional turmoil.  Here are a few common winter woes I notice in my massage practice and how to remedy them.

Problem #1

Turtle-time!  When Shoulders and Skull unite

It’s been freezing cold for months now.  We are officially in the deep, dark, cold doldrums of Winter.  Every time we step outside, we don’t know if the arctic chill will shock our system, forcing our shoulders to create an imperfect union with our skull.  This constant scrunching of our shoulders up around our ears creates a huge stressor for our upper traps, shoulders and neck.  Ouch!

Remedy:  Make sure you are toasty warm before heading outside.  Pretend you are the little bro from A Christmas Story and bundle up.  Don your hat, snuggly scarf, jacket, and mittens-- layer up!  If you’re protected from the wind and snow, you’re more likely to keep your shoulders rested where they should be, rather than imitating a turtle in its shell from November-April (Winter is long and unpredictable at best in New England).  After you get indoors, heat up your Relax Pack from Manhan Crafters, to help soothe those stressed neck and shoulder muscles.  

Problem #2

Low back pain

Low back pain ramps up during the cold weather months.  Whether you’ve been driving long distances to visit with family or friends, carrying wood pellets up from the basement, shoveling heavy snow, or hauling around your baby in a baby carrier all day, the frigid air and relentless stay-warm and safe tasks are never ending.  

Remedy: Begin your day with gentle stretching like Yoga with Adriene’s gentle morning yoga routines which are free on Youtube.  These can help prepare the body for the tasks ahead.  In addition, try to focus on strengthening opposing muscle groups.  So, if you focus on strengthening your abdomen, this will balance out the muscles of your low back and will make your core (all the way around!) hardier and more resistant to aches.   

Problem #3

Social Media+ Technology Hurts so Bad

I see an uptick of clients who struggle with symptoms of anxiety and depression throughout the fall and winter months.  They may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, deeply sad and worried about every little and big event.  Our lack of movement in the dark months presents an awfully convenient opportunity to lay in bed, cranking our necks down to stare at screens (Netflix binge-a-thon/ Facebook Timewarp!).  The physical and emotional pain that this can create is multifaceted.  Not only does cranking our necks in a downward direction for hours at a time cause deep neck pain and headaches, but the content that we dive into can promote some major FOMO (fear of missing out) and anxiety.  

Remedy: Raise your phone or laptop to eye level, if possible.  There are a few affordable items that can help.

  1. A tripod that you balance on blankets in bed.  You’ll feel immediate relief from not straining your eyes and neck in a downward direction for the whole show(s).  

  2. A lapdesk can raise your tech up to your head-level with a sturdy, nonslip surface.

Also consider giving your brain a break from social media if it’s stressing you out.  There are apps that help limit your compulsion to check your phone or social media.  Recently, I downloaded an app for my laptop which eliminates the newsfeed from my facebook account.  It’s called Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator.  It’s free and has made my work, which partially requires facebook, much more productive.

Luckily, regular massage can help with both your physical pain and symptoms of depression and anxiety.  If you notice you or someone you love experiences these winter woes, book your massage and forward this post to that loved one!

Self HelpShawna Stern