5 Tips for Getting Through Winter

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Lee Christison, Remedial Massage Therapist & Yoga Instructor at Melbourne Osteopathy Sports Injury Centre provides some helpful tips that you might find useful during these colder months…

In my experience as a dietitian, yoga teacher, massage therapist and student of Chinese Medicine, I’ve discovered some simple but effective habits that can help to get you through the winter – stronger, healthier and happier!

In essence these ideas are logical and quite obvious, things your grandmother may have told you more than once. However there is also sound scientific evidence to support this advice.

1. Stay warm outside. If you’re going outdoors to exercise, rug up! Cold causes constriction of blood vessels which shunts blood (oxygen, nutrients, energy) away from your muscle tissue. Muscles need blood to function! No blood, no function. Muscles deprived of blood are much more prone to injury. So wrap a scarf around you head, wear leggings under your running shorts and long sleeves (multiple layers).  If you have a shaved head then also wear a hat.

2. Stay warm inside but don’t leave the heater on overnight. Indoor heating is a fantastic invention, but it does dry out the air. Breathing dry air for long periods can dry out the lungs. The lungs are our most sensitive organ and have direct contact with the external environment. The lungs prefer moisture and do not function well when they are dry. Pathogens (bacteria, viruses) can invade the lungs more easily when the lungs are dry. So switch off the heater at night time to prevent the air from becoming too dry.

3. Use a heat pack or hot water bottle. If you suffer from chronic muscle injuries the use of a heat pack on a daily basis (10 minutes) can really help to improve function and reduce pain. Heat induces local blood vessel dilation, encouraging the movement of old, stagnant, toxic blood out of the tissue and new, oxygenated, nutrient rich blood into the tissue. This aids tissue repair, healing and helps reduce pain.

4. Eat warm foods. Winter is not the time for salads, cold drinks, raw food diets, sandwiches, ice cream or sugar. Stews, soups, deep rooted vegetables, broths, warm casseroles and porridge are the way to go. It sounds obvious, but take a look at your diet for a moment. We are warm blooded animals and our digestive system operates best when it is fed warm, wholesome food. Cook a big pot of chicken, vegetable and lentil soup on the weekend and take it to work during the week. Save yourself time and money, whilst nourishing your body and mind with food cooked with love. The proof is in the pudding….or in this case the soup!

5. Share some massage time with your partner, your kids, or a friend. Massage is an instinctive and inherent part of human nature. The art of massage goes back to 2000 BC in ancient China and Egypt. The healing power of touch is within everybody. Even if you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, then experiment, ask me for some tips or try YouTube! Sincere intention and communication plays a significant role in massage. Massage is great for bonding, sharing empathy, enhancing communication and creating a space for de-stressing with someone you care for. It doesn’t have to take hours. 10 minutes each is enough to begin with. Massage releases endorphins (feel good hormones) which immediately reduce your stress hormones. This improves you immunity, and amongst other things, reduces your chance of catching a cold!

Try one or try them all and let me know what you think!

If you have any queries please feel free to email me or better still do yourself a favour and book in for a treatment. Alternatively do your partner or loved one a favour and book them in to see me!

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