Brrr! Cold temps can make our body feel a little creaky. Luckily, these natural fixes ease winter aches and pains quickly and effectively.
Catching Friends halts headaches.
Head pain flaring up lately? Blame the atmospheric pressure shifts that occur this time of year. Thankfully, the fix is fun: cuing up a sitcom. German scientists say taking time for a little R&R ups the production of hormones that calm even persistent aches in 10 minutes. Bonus: Enjoy “me time” daily, and you’ll cut the risk of future headaches in half!
Calm muscle aches with a baked potato.
Winter’s chilly temperatures make it difficult for muscles to warm up and move as freely as they do in the summer, which can leave you stiff and achy. Happily, savoring a steamy baked potato (with the skin on) reduces the risk of chronic muscle tension and painful spasms by up to 65 percent, according to researchers at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Potatoes are a top source of potassium and magnesium, minerals that speed nutrient-rich blood flow to damaged tissues to quickly erase winter aches and pains.
Tame back pain with a ginger massage.
After a fun day outside watching your young nephews sledding, it’s not a total surprise to feel a twinge of back pain. That’s because cold temperatures cause the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine to tighten up. The relaxing fix that works in a hurry: Combine 12 drops of ginger essential oil and 1 ounce of jojoba oil, then massage the mixture into your lower back once or twice a day. A study in the journal Pain Research and Treatment shows this reduces chronic pain by 71 percent and improves mobility by 68 percent. Credit ginger oil’s anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing compounds, which researchers say ease even stubborn discomfort.
Soothe tech neck by looking up.
When your neck feels creaky after slouching over your phone or knitting needles, try this: Tuck your chin to your chest, then lift it upward. Next, tilt your head to your right shoulder, then your left. Finally, turn your head to the right, then your left. Hold each pose for 3 seconds. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found this cuts neck pain by up to 75 percent better than pain meds!
Relieve constipation by getting your groove on.
If you occasionally get backed up after noshing on rich comfort foods, turn on your favorite song and dance around for a few minutes. When Nashville’s Vanderbilt University researchers had subjects who experienced irregular bowel movements incorporate more physical activity into their daily routine, their GI systems improved by 52 percent. The reason: Even light, fun activity like dancing gently jostles the intestines in a way that encourages things to keep moving.
Ease a sore throat with schnapps.
Between pesky colds and dry air, your risk of a scratchy throat as much as triples this time of year. The good news: Researchers in the Netherlands say gargling with schnapps numbs the ache in your throat, while the alcohol’s antiviral and antibacterial agents help kill invading germs on contact.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.