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  • Austen McFarren, MS, LPCC

Managing Chronic Pain in Cold Weather

Cold weather can be bad news for individuals with chronic pain. For me, cold weather means reduced blood circulation, amplified pain signals from the brain, tight muscles, and battles with fatigue. What can we do about it? The answer is unique to you, due to the limitations that come with your condition(s).


Regardless of the conditions you have, exercise is SO important in managing your pain, ESPECIALLY in the wintertime. However, exercise doesn’t mean making sure you run five miles or swim fifteen laps a day. Exercise means moving your body how you can. On high pain days this may look like doing light yoga and prolonged stretching. On low pain days, that could mean a mile on the treadmill, or swimming to the end of the lap pool and back. The amount of exercise doesn’t matter, it’s the DOING it that improves your pain.


Here are some ideas for you to consider moving more this winter:


Stationary bike: A low impact exercise that focuses on your legs and heart health. Use a bike that is higher from the ground or one with back support that is close to the ground. Type of bike doesn’t matter! 


Walk indoors: Search for a local walking track or use a treadmill. Don’t focus on distance or speed. Start with five minutes, take time to evaluate how you’re feeling, add five more minutes, or add breaks as you need to. Posture is more important than speed. 


Yoga: Mindfully move your body through stretching and focusing on your breathing. Attend a local class or stream a video to your T.V. Pause the video as much as you need to, and don’t expect yourself to be able to achieve every stretch. If you can only utilize the stretches from the waist up, keep track of the ones that work best for you, keep an inventory, and save the videos if you can. 


Strength training: Use some light weights and move your arms. Consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer on exercises you can do from home using the equipment you have. There are a lot of exercises you can do with 5lb, 8lb, and 10lb weights. 


Dance: Make a playlist of your favorite dance music videos and have it play on your phone or T.V., dance with your headphones in, or learn a TikTok dance. You know you have wanted to for a long time now! 


Use your local pool: Enjoy some water aerobics, swim a lap or two, or consult a physical therapist on some exercises you can do at your local pool. Water exercises are low impact, and often come with the least amount of pain. Many pools have wheelchair lifts, call before and ask what your options are. 


Bowling: Try a round of bowling with your friends. Don’t worry about how you bowl, the weight of your ball, or the speed of your ball. Focus on your posture while holding the ball if you can, and just have fun!

Does this topic resonate with you, and find that it impacts your emotional health and well-being? Austen is accepting new clients and would be honored to meet with you! Give us a call at 701-532-1353 and select option 3 to schedule with Austen!

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