Incorporating regular massage therapy into your schedule can do wonders during the colder months. Physically, your muscles and joints may stiffen; emotionally, your mood may be dreary and your mind may be restless with cabin fever. The change of season calls not only for a change of wardrobe, but for a change of routine.
Weather doesn’t just influence what you wear—it can also influence how you feel. From your knee predicting it’s going to rain to gasping for air during an uber-windy cold snap, here are eight ways your body can go haywire when the temperature fluctuates.
Headaches and Migraines
One of the causes of headaches is constriction of blood vessels in the brain. Cold weather can cause blood vessels to quickly narrow, reducing the flow of blood or because of extreme cold, sun glare, and stormy weather can cause brain chemical imbalances that trigger a migraine.
As the weather cools, there’s less moisture in the air, which in turn provides less moisture to the skin. Strong winds will dry and irritate the skin and potentially damage the skin’s protective lipid barrier. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated and refresh your skin with a heavier lotion.
Low Energy and Blasé Mood
We often experience low energy during the colder months because of less light exposure during the day. When you do have enough light exposure you produce more of a chemical called SERT, which lowers levels of serotonin, the happy hormone. To combat feeling blah, get as much light exposure as possible by spending more time outside or using a light box.
Vitamin D Deficiency
One of the primary sources of vitamin D in our body is from conversion of cholesterol stored in the skin into vitamin D3 by sun exposure. In cold weather, not only is the UV index low, but we tend to stay inside more and don’t get enough sun. Symptoms of a deficiency include muscle weakness, greater pain sensitivity, and sleepiness. Increase your vitamin D intake by eating fatty fish like salmon and tuna, drinking fortified milk and OJ, or taking a supplement. The recommended dose of vitamin D3 is 600 IU per day.
Colder temps can cause muscle spasm of the small airway, making it narrower and causing shortness of breath. Wear a scarf or mask over your face to diffuse the cold air hitting your face directly.
Spending more time inside means being in closer contact with others, which ups your chances of catching a cold or flu. it’s easy to become exposed without knowing it, most viruses are contagious for a few days before you develop your first symptoms. A cold virus can stay on skin and on surfaces for up to three hours. Your best defense is washing your hands thoroughly and often and wearing a mask in public or large crowds.
While there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that cold or damp weather triggers joint pain, one theory is that it causes lower air pressure around the joints which leads the surrounding soft tissues to expand. This puts added pressure on the joint and causes pain. Another theory is that cold weather directly causes contraction of the muscle, connective tissues, and ligaments surrounding joints, essentially pulling on the nerves. One of the best things you can do to avoid joint pain is keep moving. Exercise not only keeps your body warm and loosens stiff joints, but helps prevent weight gain, which can also put stress on joints.
Weakened Hair and Nails
In cold weather, the small blood vessels on your skin, fingers, and toes become narrow, reducing the flow of blood and the delivery of nutrition and oxygen. This can lead to weakened hair and nails. Plus, cooler temps dry out your skin and nails, making them more prone to minor cuts and injuries. Make sure to stay warm and run your humidifier to keep that blood flowing and your skin moist.
Massage therapy can help relieve the aches and pains that result from cold weather. Regular massage helps keep your muscles healthy for wintertime activities. The gentle pressing and kneading motion will loosen and relax muscle fibers, which creates greater muscle stability and flexibility. Not only will you get more out of your winter time activities, but you’ll also reduce the risk of injury.
At Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma our experienced Massage Therapists can help you keep your muscles supple and limber during these less-active months while bolstering your immune system and mood.
Call 978-825-0040 today or visit our website www.bodysoulsalem.com to learn more.
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