Staying Warm Is Critical for Maintaining Limber Muscles

Staying Warm Is Critical for Maintaining Limber Muscles
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Is it spring yet?

Like for many people in the U.S., the weather in Virginia has been less than stellar lately. We’ve had record-breaking rainfall, and while I’m thankful we’ve been spared the ice storms and frigid conditions of other states, it’s still pretty miserable here.

The last two weeks, we’ve had several days with temperatures that didn’t make it out of the 30s, and it was raining to boot. As someone who already has a tendency of muscle tightness because of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, this damp cold is tough.

At my day job, I work as a college counselor and history teacher at a local high school. But that’s not all I do. I also have two horses and help out on a small, private farm in exchange for significantly reduced rent for my apartment. This makes my hobby/physical therapy/emotional therapy more financially sustainable.

I love working with both students and animals, so the work and the chores don’t bother me. But the weather sure can get to me.

I’ve spent a lot of extra time outdoors recently, doing additional farmwork related to the weather. Horses stay warm by eating hay, so I have to make sure they have plenty to eat in front of them. Eating lots of dry hay means they drink a lot, so making sure water troughs are clean and full is a top priority. And of course, it’s also important to make sure none of them have been injured by slipping in the mud, or are too cold and need to move indoors to warm up.

The cold temperatures themselves don’t actually bother me, but if my body gets cold, my neck, back, and shoulders tend to tighten and become sore. While I think this is a pretty normal reaction to the cold, when I warm back up, my tight, painful muscles often don’t relax. Once they get the idea that they can be tight and achy, I’ve found that they like to stay that way, at least until I can get an appointment with my amazing massage therapist, Kim!

One new invention that I’ve found this year is called the ProRide Vest. While hand warmers are great, they don’t help your body stay warm overall. Before Christmas, I saw an ad for a new product that’s actually a battery-powered heated vest designed for activity. I bought one for me and one for my mom, who has a lot of arthritis in her neck and back.

I was skeptical at first, but now I think they’re amazing. I’ve found that I’m much more comfortable and less sore after hours of working or riding in my heated vest than I would be otherwise. Even toasty, warm jackets don’t have the same effect. While these vests were designed for riders, I’ve found that so far, they’re great for other activities, too.

This winter reminds me of the importance of keeping myself warm, a component of self-care and managing my EDS muscle tightness.

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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