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“Thermotherapy” Heat Therapy to get through the Winter

This article was published in Andrea Ashley Magazine Winter 2017 Isuue https://andreaashley.ca/magazine

During the winter months, many of us struggle to get through the days which have a limited amount of sunlight and cold weather. The cold weather has a strong effect on our bodies. It tightens muscles, causes more muscle pain, muscle spasms, muscle knots, joint pain and less circulation. “A cold breeze blowing across an already-energy-deficient muscle will throw it into shortening, and shortened muscles can be a primary and key cause of pain,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD director of The Annapolis Center for Effective Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia Therapies. Also, changes in temperature or barometric pressure, a measure that refers to the weight of the surrounding air can trigger joint pain (Goodman).

Below are some of my favorite methods I use to get through the cold winter months in New York.

Biomat: A BioMat uses far infrared rays which penetrate deeply into the body and address imbalances at the cellular level. You can adjust the heat on the mat to your liking and then simply lay down on it. It feels as if you are being warmed up from the inside and is ideal on cold days. It can be used to help with a wide range of health issues, including relieving minor muscle pain, joint pain and stiffness, increasing blood circulation, reducing stress and more.

Sauna: There are many benefits of using a sauna including detoxification, muscle and joint pain relief, increase of circulation, reduction of inflammation, lowering of blood pressure, weight loss and skin purification. “It causes you to sweat and can help release endorphins,” says David Geirer, MD, a sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina. “And the heat also increases blood flow to the muscle and the periphery of the body, which helps sore muscles feel better temporarily.” Physical therapist Patrick Walsh states that heat therapy is usually reserved for treating older injuries or chronic muscle or joint pain, like arthritis. (MacMillen). Stretching in the sauna gets a deeper stretch and muscles will loosen up quicker. It can be like a mini hot yoga class.

Steam room: The steam room can help with winter congestion, colds and sinus infections. Breathe in the steam with eucalyptus essential oil on a towel to help with any type of respiratory infection.
Hot Detox Bath. There are many types of detox baths that can be taken. My favorite in the winter time in order to relieve pain and muscle cramps is a hot epsom salt bath. It is great for detoxification and also good for after a hard workout. Epsom salt helps to detoxify your body by making you sweat out toxins. Also, you will absorb some of the minerals and trace minerals found in the salt such as magnesium. Stay in bath for 25-35 minutes and make sure to have a water bottle next to you to stay hydrated since the salt pulls out water from your body. Submerge your whole body up to your chin to receive the most benefits. Take the bath before bed time since it makes you tired, but make sure to shower after bathing to get off any excess sweat and bacteria. This bath can be taken one to two times a week and more once your body adjusts (Morrison 138).

Essential Oil Diffuser:
Essential Oil Diffusers provide an excellent method of calming and moisturizing to build a healthy, natural, warm, and pure living environment. Use eucalyptus essential oil to help with congestion, to control coughing, or to sooth a sore throat. This oil is perfect for boosting concentration and for keeping your energy level elevated. It is great for dark, cold or rainy winter days when extra stimulation is much needed.
Heat Pads: Selective heating, also known as local hyperthermia, of affected joints with hot packs can be very beneficial in treating chronic aching and dysfunctional joints and muscles. The best type of heating pads are clay heating pads which is heated up in the microwave. Stay away from electrical heating pads because they expose you to Electromagnetic Fields also known as EMF (Storl 193).

Hot tea: Cold fruit smoothies are refreshing on a hot summer day, but in the winter our bodies crave something warm. Consuming a hot drink will heat up your whole body. My favorite tea mix in the winter acts as a natural antibiotic. Whenever I feel like I am getting sick, my go-to tea remedy is a mix of raw manuka honey, black pepper, turmeric, coconut oil, ginger, lemon, apple cider vinegar, garlic, oregano. Also, warm water and lemon is easy to make with many health and detoxing benefits.

For more, check out my Instagram at @nychamptonshealth


References
Goodman, |. By Brenda. “Weather and Arthritis Pain.” Weather Pain | Weather Forecast and Pain. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

MacMillan, Amanda. “Do Saunas Help or Hurt Sore Muscles?” Outside Online. Outside Magazine, 06 Oct. 2016. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
Storl, Wolf-Dieter. Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2010. Print.

Jeffrey A. Morrison, M.D.,  2011. Cleanse You Body, Clear Your Mind, New York, New York, The Penguin Group

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