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One Simple Way to Reduce Pain: Stay Covered

by Gretchen Belenchia

One Simple Way to Reduce Pain: Stay Covered, Cloud Gate Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Broomfield, ColoradoHere in Colorado, we’ve had quite the fluctuations in temperature this winter: temperatures have dipped into the negative teens and soared into the 60’s, with plenty of wind in between those transitions.

These shifts in temperature can take a toll on our bodies and increase the amount of discomfort or pain that our bodies go through as they try to adjust to these fluctuations.

Pain or discomfort due to temperature changes and wind can manifest as an increase in the number of headaches, especially if they begin at the back of the neck or head, pain in the low back or neck, or pain the knees and other joints. Pain in these regions is especially noticeable if you have an old injury to the area or if you have some form of arthritis in certain areas.

Cold is one condition that is tough on the body, but when a nice brisk wind chill is added to cold, you’ve got an environment that can really adversely impact the health and comfort of the body. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are covered up when you go outside – especially when it’s windy.

But what about when it’s a really nice warm winter day – upper 50’s to 60’s – and windy? It’s still important to cover up! The energy of winter is a lower energy. That’s why, in general, people tend to have less energy and get sicker during the fall and winter months. That’s why plants and animals are less active or dormant. And that’s why it is still important to protect yourself from what we, in Chinese Medicine, call an ‘Invasion of Wind.’

In Chinese Medicine, we say that ‘Wind is the harbinger of 100 diseases.’ Wind is the harbinger of 100 diseases because the other external conditions, such as cold, heat, and dampness, like to piggyback on wind to invade your body. Wind allows these other external conditions to penetrate into the layers of your skin more easily and to create more pain or discomfort.

Think about being out in the wind and cold: muscles tighten to protect you and try to keep you warm, and these tight muscles and tendons can lead to headaches and joint pain.

So what areas should you protect? In addition to protecting the areas that are typically painful or uncomfortable for you, there are 3 major areas to keep covered:

1. Your Neck
2. Your Lower Back
3. Your Feet

Your Neck

Always keep your neck covered in windy or cold conditions, especially if you are prone to developing headaches or have had a neck injury in the past. This is one of the first tips I received in my Chinese Medicine education, and it has served me well over the years. Even in the summer, I have a lighter cotton scarf for wearing in air conditioning because I am now very aware of my neck tensing up when cold air is blowing on it.

Your Lower Back

One of the ways to protect your back is to keep your lower back and kidney area nice and warm. Make sure there’s not a place between your shirt and pants where wind and cold can penetrate.

This is especially important for all of you outdoor enthusiasts – it might feel really good at the time to expose sweaty skin to cold air, but it’s not the best idea for your long-term health, especially if you’ve had a back injury or are prone to your back ‘going out.’ Allow your body to cool down slowly and change out of sweaty clothing as soon as you can before you get chilled.

Your Feet

Protecting your feet from the cold – including cold floors in your house – is another major way to prevent back pain and keep your vital energy strong. In Chinese Medicine, there is a very important point on the bottom of your foot. It is the first point on the Kidney channel, called Yong Quan. The Kidney channel travels to many areas in your body, but it has a major relationship to your Kidneys and Low Back. Walking on cold floors or wearing inappropriate footwear for the season can lead to low back soreness and pain.


Cold causes fluid contraction – heat causes fluid movement (picture frozen versus boiling water). Protecting your body from the cold and wind by keeping it warm can help to decrease pain in the body, especially in our joints or places that are injured. Keeping those areas warm can help to keep fluids moving freely through those areas and prevent stiffness in your body.

Don’t let the changes in temperature cause pain and discomfort in your body. Prevent and reduce pain by covering your neck, low back, and feet. Try it for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference. What do you have to lose – besides stiffness, pain, and discomfort?

Protect your body and your health by staying covered today – especially since it’s forecast to snow for the next few days! Stay warm out there!