8 Moves That Get Rid of Winter Aches and Pains

MELT Method creator Sue Hitzmann will have you hating the cold a little less in no time. Promise.

One day you're shivering in your boots, the next you're walking around without a jacket or a care in the world. This winter being a giant tease has not only messed with our emotions — make up your mind, Mother Nature! — it's messed with our bodies, too.

Few things are unpleasant as being cold and achy, but unfortunately those two come as a pair more often than not. Luckily MELT Method creator Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, has some simple moves that will help you get out — and stay out — of pain.

What You'll Need

These moves use a MELT Soft Body Roller, but if you don't have a soft roller, try draping a yoga mat over a conventional firm foam roller or laying on a rolled-up towel. The first three moves use a MELT Treatment ball, but you can sub in any small soft ball.

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Glide

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If you've spent way too much time clenching your hands in your gloves this season, MELT Method's compression techniques are here to help.

"Compression techniques are ways to rehydrate the connective tissue and bring the fluids back through the body. These moves can take some of the stiffness out of your hands," Hitzmann says.

Here's how: Place the ball between your hands and Glide it back and forth with equal pressure as you take three or four focused breaths. Gliding is a preparatory technique.

Shear

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Place the ball at the base of your palms and create small circles as you take 3 or 4 focused breaths. Shearing is like making bubbles. Hold the compression and wait as you allow the tissue to adapt.

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Finger Rinse

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Place one hand flat on the floor or a table. Use the other hand to press the ball over the top of and in between each finger of the bottom hand in one direction, from the knuckle to the nail. This also stimulates the wrist of the top hand.

Double Arm Reach

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"Because there are nerves that come out of the neck, branch under the collar bones, and run into your arms, shrugging can take fluid away from your arms and cause tingling in your hands," Hitzmann says.

Here's how:

  1. Place your hands on the sides of your ribs, elbows on the floor. Open your forearms away from your torso to make a letter W.
  2. Lift your elbows off the floor as you reach your fingertips away from the center of your chest without shrugging your shoulders, locking your elbows, or lifting your ribs off the roller. Your hands are just above your body. Your arms are in line with your ribs, rather than straight out from your shoulders.
  3. Keeping your palms face up, slowly extend one wrist and point your fingertips toward the floor as you flex the other wrist and point your fingertips toward the ceiling.
  4. Take focused breaths into your chest as you slowly flex and extend your wrists in opposition 6 to 10 times. Notice the pull across the front of your upper body, from fingertip to fingertip.
  5. Put your hands on the floor and slowly come off the roller by straightening out one leg and sliding off that side, first with your pelvis, and then your ribs and head.
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Rib Length

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"It's key to hydrate the tissue around your ribs. If you're getting neck tension from shrugging all the time from the freezing cold, this move can get rid of the stiffness in the front of the chest. That stiffness causes a lot of pain in between your shoulders," Hitzmann says.

Here's how:

  1. With the middle of your shoulder blades resting on top of the roller and your pelvis tucked, breathe in and then, on the exhale, allow only your ribs to extend over the roller.
  2. Make a "shhhh" sound as you hold the position, then come back to the starting position. Repeat once.
  3. Maintain this extension and slowly side bend your ribs to the right and make the "shhh" sound. Repeat on the left side.

Calf Glide

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"As the snow falls, you're wearing high boots that can inhibit the action of the ankle joint. This causes a lot of knee, hip, and low-back pain. An easy way to remedy this is work on your calves," says Hitzmann.

Here's how:

  1. Place the roller under the upper half of your left calf, a few inches below your knee, and cross the right ankle over the top of the other. With your feet and legs relaxed, let your calf sink into the roller with tolerable pressure.
  2. Slowly bend and straighten your knee 4 or 5 times to move the roller back and forth no more than two inches. Keep your feet and ankles relaxed and maintain a consistent, tolerable pressure as you explore your calf for areas of stuck stress.
  3. Continue to Glide, making the movement smaller and smaller for 2 or 3 breaths.
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Calf Shear

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  1. Now pause, maintain tolerable pressure, and indirectly Shear by flexing and pointing your right ankle 3 to 4 times and then making circles with your ankle 3-4 times in each direction.
  2. Relax your ankle and create a direct Shear by turning your right leg in and out in a small, controlled movement — just 1 or 2 inches — 4 or 5 times. The roller remains stationary.
  3. Maintain compression of your calf on the roller, and gently shift your leg slightly left to right, like you're scratching the calf against the roller. This is called cross friction. If you feel any pain, reduce the pressure by uncrossing your legs.
  4. Pause, wait, and take two focused breaths while you let the calf sink further into the roller.
  5. Move the roller down to the lower half of your calf, a few inches above your ankle. Repeat the same Glide (above) and Shear techniques in this region.
  6. Switch legs and repeat the entire sequence on the other calf.

Calf Rinse

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  1. Sit on the floor and place your arms behind you for support. With your right knee bent, rotate your right leg inward and place your inner ankle on the roller. Your foot is relaxed, and your big toe is close to the floor.
  2. Lean forward and slowly straighten your right leg to allow the roller to move up your inner calf with consistent, light pressure. It's okay if the roller doesn't travel all the way up your calf.
  3. Rotate your leg so the back of your leg is on the roller.
  4. Lean back and slowly bend your knee to allow the roller to move down the back side of your calf with consistent, light pressure. Stop before your ankle and repeat the Rinse 3 or 4 times.
  5. Repeat on the other leg.
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