A ‘do-it-yourself’ natural surge of pain relief

Do you experience pain during the winter? Or even in the spring and fall, when it’s cool and damp?

Well that “chill in your bones” translating into pain is not uncommon. Joint pain, arthritis pain, migraines and even achy muscles all increase when it’s colder.

But even if it isn’t warming up where you live yet, you can do just one easy thing to relieve the pain. It has to do with a warm, healing surge of blood flow to your extremities… because that’s really the underlying issue.

The reason for the increase in pain has to do with our body’s reaction to cold. When we’re cold, our bodies restrict blood flow to the extremities. It’s a kind of survival mode that concentrates blood near vital organs, like the heart and lungs, where it’s most needed.

The result is less blood, and heat, circulating near the surface of the skin.

This can affect your mobility if you’re older, and for just about anyone can be painful and make you downright achy all over. That’s because the soft tissue around the joints gets less heat and nutrients, and becomes less pliable and begins to stiffen.

Hands, feet, knees, hips and shoulders lacking in ample warm, oxygen-rich blood flow can feel the worst, although neck and back pain can come from this, too.

Pain is a warning sign from your body that something is wrong. It’s important to heed that warning and avoid damage to your body. And that’s why remaining active, no matter the season, is vital.

The only way to reliably increase blood is to get moving. Raising your heart rate increases blood flow to the extremities by many times what it is at rest … even if you do just simple movements. This can give your whole body a surge of pain relief.

I was reading about this recently. One group of researches found that doing just an easy elbow flexion movement – literally folding and unfolding your arms – can raise blood flow by 25%. [1]

So you don’t have to go running. You can do what you love to do. But imagine how much more blood flow and how much less pain you’ll have if you do some easy jogging in place if it’s too cold outside.  Or jumping jacks.

Floor exercises, like leg raises and half push-ups, or simple stretches are low impact (easier on the joints) but still provide enough movement to impact blood flow.

Yoga and Pilates are low impact exercises that require little space (an area about the length of your body) and no special equipment. If you don’t own a yoga mat, fold a blanket or beach towel over a few times to be comfortable on the floor and perform the exercises at your own pace following an instructional video online or on DVD.

Additionally, exercise can be found in everyday household chores including vigorous sweeping, mopping or vacuuming. Of course if you’ve got stairs in your home — or office, find excuses to climb them a few extra times during the day.

A little exercise can go a long way in improving winter aches and pain. You may also experience a pleasant energy boost that will have you hopping out of bed with energy and enthusiasm.

[1] Amundsen B, Wisløff U, Helgerud J, Hoff J, Slørdahl S. “Ultrasound recorded axillary artery blood flow during elbow-flexion exercise.” Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Aug;34(8):1288-93.


Kellye Copas

By Kellye Copas

Staff writer Kellye Copas has several years experience writing for the alternative health industry. Her background is in non-profit fundraising, copywriting and direct mail and web marketing.