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Ease Winter Eczema Flare Ups With Internal and External Changes

Winter means cold, dry air, forced heat in your homes, lots of layers, and wool coats and sweaters. For me (and probably for some of you) it also includes a nosebleed or two at the beginning of the season and lots of long, hot showers. All of this drying, constricting, and irritating isn’t very good for your skin and can lead to dryness, itching, and even what is known as winter eczema. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that manifests with itchy skin and a rash and is believed to be triggered by both internal and external factors.

External factors that trigger eczema include the dry air, cosmetics, rough fabrics close to the skin, and even hot showers. Suggestions to manage external factors include using gentle skin cleansers, moisturize daily, cutting back on hot showers or baths, and keeping soft, breathable materials like cotton closer to skin. Dr. Shirley Madhere of Holistic Plastic Surgery also suggests “occasional colloidal oatmeal baths, castor oil massages, and moisturizing the body with shea butter.” Ahmet Altiner, M.D., F.A.A.D. of UWS Dermatology & Skin Care explains that “exercise promotes sweating and water loss. Although it is unlikely to cause eczema, in people who are prone to it, dehydration can exacerbate an atopic dermatitis flare.”

Externally, Michelle L. Butler CHHC, AADP, RYT suggests using “unprocessed (no bleaching, refining or deodorizing) organic virgin coconut oil… on the dry, cracked, peeling skin of eczema sufferers. Make sure to massage the oil deeply into the area. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are easily and quickly absorbed into the skin, and will provide instant relief.”


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Yoga Hip Openers for Winter Athletes

After a full day of snowboarding, skiing or snowshoeing the muscles of the hips can shorten and tighten. Flexible, open hips are a must for winter athletes. Without them performance may decrease while the risk of injury increases.

The following hip opening yoga poses are a must for keeping the lower body healthy and limber.

Warrior I and Crescent Lunge for the Hip Flexors

The psoas muscles, located along the front crease of the hips, are the powerful muscles that give winter athletes control, stability and strength. When they are tight, the low back suffers and as a result, injury can occur.

Yoga poses that stretch the psoas muscles are warrior one and crescent lunge. Similar to a runner’s lunge, these poses extend the front of the hip, giving those mighty hip flexors a dose of elasticity. For best results, be sure to tuck your tailbone under slightly.


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3 Yoga Poses for Pain Free Snow Shoveling

Just like a tough weightlifting routine at the gym, shoveling snow is also hard work. Treat it as you would any hardcore yet safe and effective workout and you will gain the benefits just as you would a carefully designed exercise program.

The following yoga poses and shoveling tips can help keep you strong, fit and protect your body from injury when the sidewalk is knee-deep in snow.

Recline Twist

A flexible spine is a healthy spine, especially when it comes to shoveling heavy snow. Practice this twist before and after shoveling.

Lie down on your back with your right knee pulled into your chest and your left leg extended on the floor. Reach for your right knee with your left hand and roll onto your left hip. Extend your right arm out to the side. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.


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Guided Imagery to Survive the Dark Days of Winter

It is estimated that at least 6 out of 100 people suffer from some type of light deficient depression during the dark days of winter, but turning your clock back an hour doesn’t have to leave you in the dark. If sunshine on your shoulders makes you happy and being starved for daylight puts you in a funk, imagining the sun can be the next best thing to keep your spirits up this winter.

Your imagination is very effective since your mind and body sometimes don’t know the difference between whether your brain is just thinking something or if you are actually experiencing something. According to the American Psychological Association, studies have associated the use of guided imagery techniques with positive outcomes such as reduced anxiety and depression. So, whenever you need to bask in some radiant sunshine, whether you are inside or out, this simple guided imagery can help.
Practice the following sequence as often as necessary and start to feel brighter, more cheerful and full of positive energy.


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Look Forward to Winter Running with Proper Preparation

“Don’t. Even. Say. It.” That’s my response to the weather man’s reference to winter being just around the corner.

Living in a climate that embraces all the seasons can be challenging for a runner. However, for me, there’s no season worse for running than winter. I loathe the cold winds, the freezing temps, and the icy roads. But, I hate the treadmill more and I simply can not fathom giving up this sport just because the weather has turned foul. After years of frost bite, icy eyelashes, and chills, I have found a few tricks to take on mother nature and continue running through the winter.

If I can impart one tip to a runner in the cold, this is the most important one: Wear mittens. Be sure you read that right, I said mittens, not gloves, mittens. Gloves are great and I have several pairs. I use them in the cool seasons. But when the temps are below freezing, mittens are the best way to keep those digits warm. Technically, mittens have a higher thermal efficiency than gloves. I don’t operate in the technical world too well. All I know is that after years of pain, as my hands would start to go numb and my run was consumed with the pain, I tried a pair of mittens and my hands actually got sweaty they were so warm. Make sure to get them early, because stores sell out fast. You can thank me later.


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