Spring winds and Frozen Shoulders!

Early March and it’s freezing! Quite literally! There’s been an arctic wind from the North East and the soil that I dug over in last weeks sunshine, is completely solid again.

The combination of earlier Spring weather tempting people out to do more than they planned, tiredness and lack of fitness from a long Winter, and icy winds, have combined to fill my clinic with sore necks, shoulders and backs.

One person, rather ruefully told me that they had just gone out to clear some leaves from around the daffodils and crawled into the house seven hours later after a day of non stop digging!

Sometimes the pain can start without such a clear cause; frozen shoulders just seem to appear and old injuries begin to ache again.

In Chinese Medicine it’s thought that the cause of so much discomfort is the combination of people being run down after a long Winter and the particularly penetrating Winds at this time of year.

Early Spring is one of the most powerful times of year in Chinese Medicine. It was believed that the wind helped things like cold and damp to penetrate and lodge in joints and old points of weakness.

Modern research has shown that our immune systems function very poorly when we are exposed to the wind, and we would be expected to be more vulnerable to picking up infection.

The way to navigate our way safely through these next few weeks and stay fit and well, is to aim to be preventative as much as possible! Wrap up well just like in the old wives tales!   Get to bed a little bit earlier if we’ve been doing more than usual; make sure our diet contains lots of fresh fruit and vegetables; warm up before doing lots of vigorous activity; keep a vitamin D supplement going until the sunshine really starts to feel warm.

If it’s too late and you’re sitting reading this with something painful somewhere, then don’t panic! try to keep the area warm unless its clearly inflamed, use a heat pack or wrapped hot water bottle. If the warmth feels helpful then you could try a deep heat cream (no need to have one that includes anti-inflamatories in my experience). Try to keep gently moving unless the pain is too severe, but don’t do any extreme movements or stretches for a while . Careful with yoga but gentle pilates (or gentle yoga if you’ve done lots before) could be helpful. In Chinese Medicine warming, expelling flavours are helpful; think of warm casseroles and soups with coriander, chilli, cumin, ginger, pepper, onions, garlic, rather than cold salad from the fridge with under ripe tomatoes.

For anyone who might have read my last post and be worrying about Toby the horse, his leg is healing well. No swelling now and the hair is starting to grow back, hurrah! Now he just needs some warmdry sunshine just like the rest of us in the UK!

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