Winter & Workouts — A Recipe for Shoulder Pain. Here’s How to Fix It!
David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about preventative shoulder pain techniques to get you through the winter.
Your Shoulders and Winter are not good friends...
Have you booked a massage therapy for shoulder pain session yet? If not, you'll probably feel like we are psychics in a few weeks...
It’s that most wonderful time of year…okay, actually it’s not all that wonderful right now.
The holidays are over, it’s freezing cold, and it’s a new year at the office with new projects, stress, and pressure.
And the cold just started….we’ve still got 10-14 weeks to go 😬🤒
Add in indoor exercise to that (weightlifting, yoga, boxing, Crossfit) and you’ve got a perfect recipe for shoulder pain and injuries…..
Winter Shoulder Pain Recipe
1/4 cup “lifting shoulders due to cold”
1 cup “stressing at work” which engages our fight/flight response and lifts the shoulders
1 tablespoon “indoor exercise” which impacts shoulders more intensely (due to the other above ingredients)...
This recipe leads to overuse injuries such as rotator cuff tears, biceps tendonitis, and bursitis.
What you get when this cake is baked is “I don’t know what happened….but my right (or left) shoulder just started hurting…..HELP!”
Shoulder Pain in Winter: What YOU can do about it
If you haven’t gotten to the pain level yet, congrats!
If you don’t want to get there, come see us for massage therapy for shoulder pain (or any other pains you are dealing with). In the meantime, the following will absolutely help to prevent further injury:
Invest in a good winter coat, hat, scarf (no, really)
- Fashion is cool and all…and usually cold too. You may not like wearing a parka, or messing up your hair with a hat, but your shoulders will thank you if you are warm enough.
- Your body is dealing with cold that it’s not insulated against.
- Our nervous system is hardwired to “protect the important bits” (ie your head and your trunk where all of your important organs are).
- It raises the arms and shoulders in a self hug to bring more body heat to your brain (the most important bit) and lungs.
- This is brain stem level instinctual….if your body is cold enough to be scared of hypothermia it will raise your shoulders no matter how much you want them not to.
Warm up inside for a few minutes before sitting down (Desk = Death)
- After you get inside and take off your coat, hat, scarf, spend several minutes walking around your office or house before sitting down.
- Give your muscles some time to warm up, acclimate, and loosen up before sitting and staying in one position. Otherwise, they will tighten up into a sitting position even more than during the rest of the year.
Stretch (Desk = Death: Part 2)
- Do some light stretching and moving, especially hip stretching and twists. These tend to get super locked up walking around in boots and trudging through snow and wind.
- Swing your arms lightly around and roll your shoulders to help loosen up. Normally this happens while walking, but in winter we tend to keep our hands in our pockets. This holds the shoulders locked in place. Hence your shoulder pain!
- Check out our YouTube page! We have a bunch of self-care at the office stretches to help you out in quick, easy to watch videos 🙂
Make sure to warm up properly at the gym before going hard
- Again, when you first get inside at the gym spend several minutes just letting your body warm up. Acclimate after being outside in the cold!
- It’s even more important during winter months to spend that 10 minutes doing light stretching and warm up exercises. Try light walking or jogging on the treadmill. Before going full out, try a few reps of lifts with much lighter weight than you intend to lift during your workout. (Of course, you SHOULD be doing this throughout the year 🤔).
- Does your gym have a steam room or sauna? Take advantage of that! Just make sure to bring in water to drink as you’ll sweat out even more fluids in there.
Hydration is vital
- Winter means heating, which means DRY AIR. It’s going to take more water and fluids intake than you are used to drinking to stay hydrated.
- Muscles that are stiff from the cold and under-hydrated are WAY more prone to injury.
- Do you own a humidifier at home? No? Get one (or two or three….). Fluid loss at night while sleeping under heavy blankets and dry NYC heat is guaranteed. And it's a surefire recipe for muscle injury and getting whatever nasty little flu or cold bugs are floating around the office.
- Book a massage!
- Why not take care of yourself? Massage therapy for shoulder pain, hip pain, foot, pain, low back pain, and any other pains that crop up during winter months is a no brainer.
- And no, it's not going to just wear off the moment you step back outside 🙂
What WE can can help you with: massage therapy for shoulder pain
Some of our clients disappear for a while during the winter months. It’s harder to convince yourself to get to the studio when it means extra time outside in the cold and snow. We take on a “this sucks and I’ve just got to make through until Spring” attitude in NYC.
Getting massage therapy for shoulder pain every 3-6 weeks is even more useful in the winter. You are going to tighten up no matter what you try to do on your own. A few massages during the winter means that you’ll far more likely to enter spring training injury free.
And if you are feeling any sharp shoulder pain during exercise now, don't ignore it and hope it will get better. We can work on it to keep it from becoming a full blown rotator cuff tear or torn labrum. Not to mention biceps tendonitis…
The advantage to working with our team is that we customize every session to meet your needs for wherever your body is at that day.