Winter in Melbourne is one of the most challenging times to stay fit and maintain muscle health. It’s the time when the body instinctively protects itself from the cold by contracting muscles. Muscles are also forced to work much harder to complete the same tasks they complete easily in milder weather. This causes stress to the muscle tissues resulting in tightness, pain and restrictions throughout the body.
When muscles contract they lose heat and slow the circulatory system, which prevents nutrients from reaching muscle cells. This results in a build up of toxins such as lactic acid in the stressed tissue, which creates pain.
Movement generates heat in the body so it is vital to keep your body moving in winter. Another great way to get the blood pumping to the undernourished muscles again by using heat packs/wheat bags. Heat is one of the most effective recovery elements for aching muscles. Heat causes blood vessels to enlarge, thus encouraging circulation into the tissues once again to allow the muscles and underlying tissues to replenish and relax.
Circulation is vital, especially in winter when it’s cold, so applying a warm wheat bag to tight painful areas is a great way to prevent further restriction and injury.
One of the fastest ways to relieve aching muscles is to spend time each day stretching. This provides the release needed and enhances blood flow throughout the muscles, key to health and longevity. We recommend stretching at least 15 minutes every day for long term health benefits to really take shape.
A good time to stretch is first thing in the morning to help wake you up as well as allow for deeper release while the muscles are still warm and relaxed from being in bed over night. Also remember to be gentle on yourself while stretching. Forcing a stretch may only lead to injury so it’s important to simply allow the muscles to release as opposed to forcing them.
The essential keys to muscle balance and well being, are blood flow and circulation. Sufficient self care with massage or myotherapy is an optimal way to encourage this and restore mobility. Taking the time to look after ourselves is always a wise investment, and more important in the colder months. So take care this winter, stay warm and remember that your body needs movement.
Check out Matt’s 2nd NMIT Interview after his first in 2002, by Trish Gallagher on where a Massage Diploma can get you.