Facebook Live Q&A Recap
In this Facebook Live with Dr. Kennedy, he shared with us 5 simple steps you can take today to minimize discomfort you may experience as the cooler weather sets in and winter is on the way. Below you’ll find a recap of the five things he shared (and a bonus #6!), or watch the full video replay below.
If you live in North America, winter is now at your doorstep and temperatures are dipping across the country. Like it or not, the cold weather is here and probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Unfortunately, the drop in temperature may also usher in an unwelcome increase in the occasional discomfort for many suffering from unhealthy nerves.
Cold weather can affect nerves in various ways. Exposure to cold slows the flow of blood to the hands and feet as it tries to preserve the body’s core temperature. This reduction in blood flow to the extremities can lead to both increased discomfort and damage to the peripheral nerves. Exposure to cold can also cause the muscles to tighten and spasm – pulling on the nerves as they do and resulting in intensified sensitivity in the affected areas.
So what can you do to limit cold weather’s effect on your nerves? Here are five simple steps you can take to minimize discomfort and reduce cold weather’s effect on your quality of life this winter.
1. Avoid Caffeine
We already know caffeine can be unhealthy for your nerves, but when the temperatures drop and the winter blues start to set in – that warm cup of coffee becomes very tempting. If possible, limit or eliminate caffeine from your diet. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels – thereby disrupting circulation and putting a strain on blood flow as it tries to reach your extremities. With your blood flow already under attack from the cold, caffeine merely exacerbates the problem.
2. Limit Alcohol Consumption
The holidays are a time to enjoy good company and good spirits – and like coffee in the example above – a little alcoholic drink to warm the soul becomes all the more tempting. Though a drink or two is probably ok, avoid drinking too much. Excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to vitamin deficiencies, which can result in aggravating those nerves.
3. Do Simple Stretches & Exercises
You don’t have to go to a gym to do simple stretches and exercises that can increase blood flow. In fact, there are a number of easy exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine without even having to get off the couch or leave your desk. These exercises are especially important during the winter months because they promote good circulation as well as keep our muscles loose and relaxed. Here are a couple resources with ideas for low-impact stretches or exercises you can do this winter:
Three Simple Foot Exercises For Nerve Health
4. Protect Your Hands & Feet
Hands and feet are the two most common areas where nerves can become unhealthy and are the most susceptible to poor circulation in the winter.
Protecting them from the cold is crucial. For those experiencing occasional numbness, it is especially important as the lack of feeling could result in accidental prolonged exposure. Wear warm – but loose-fitting – gloves, socks, and shoes. Avoid tight-fitting clothing as much as possible as it can further restrict circulation. Inspect all areas of feet everyday - look for dark for discolored areas or early cracks for wounds. And take breaks from cold and avoiding staying out too long.
5. Turn Up The Heat
Keeping your home warm can go a long way in keeping you comfortable and reducing the risk of further aggravation. For most, a comfortable temperature is between 65 and 69 degrees fahrenheit. Of course, your ideal temperature may vary, so do what works for you. A warm house not only helps promote good circulation, but it can also have a calming effect and boost mood during the cold winter months.
Nerves love to be touched. Remember, it’s important to manipulate the environment around the nerves to not only increase blood flow to get oxygen and nuturients to them, but also to move the muscles, tendons, and tissues so they can function better and support nerve health. Massage every morning is a direct way to stimulate even the smallest nerves that lie just under the skin.
Cold weather can and will play tricks on our bodies and inevitably aggravate our nerves, so making simple adjustments like the ones mentioned above can go a long way in improving our comfort. What do you do to keep your nerve pain under control during the winter? Share your advice below or post on our Facebook Page.