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Winter Wonderland / Education Focus: Heat and Cold Therapy

Updated: May 19, 2022

What is your favorite season?, and why? Summer brings the birds, festive parties and plenty of beaches and poolside braai's. Autumn brings the beautiful colour changes, harvest season in wine country and squirrels. We love Winter. It is so hard to get up in the dark mornings, cold and tired, but goodness, the days are the best! The air looks and smells cleaner, the dew and mist in the mornings adds so much sparkle to an ordinary view, winter seems to bring peace and quiet while everything seems to be hibernating. Spring is a close second, the flowers, still sparkling crisp mornings, an awaking from slumber.

Each season brings new options for outings and adventures. Here I wanted to go through our favorite winter activities. Staying active throughout the year is so important for you, so finding fun and active seasonal outings will make each season better! All these winter activities are good all year round, here we just want to highlight some the wonderful places the cape offers in the colder months.

With a lower temperatures, day time walks and hikes are so much better. Don't forget to pack enough sunscreen and water, often we forget these seemingly obvious items as they are equally important at any time of year. Many wine farms have great hikes/walks on the farms (Klein Roosboom, Mooiplaas, Vergelegen), maybe even a Park Run (Meerendal), just some of the many options.

Sunrises are also a little later and therefor more accessible, as well as oftentimes more beautiful, perhaps an added morning walk or dip in Dalebrook?

A winter would not be complete without a trip to Ceres to see the snow, and if we having a good snow year, to play in it. Walks and playing in the snow makes for some of the best memories, throw in some hot chocolate and warm soup and happy days!

Our South African braai. A lot can be said about this, but I want to focus on the fire. In winter, lighting a fire is wonderful. Whether it is for your braai, or just to keep warm, it is such a treat. We have discovered the joys of braaing almost everything, so if you wanting a classic braai, potjie, rotisserie or potbread or PizzaBraai! Don't be afraid to experiment.

As for camping adventures, the Cederberg is another favorite place for us in Winter, as it is too hot for most in the summer months. Rock climbing, bouldering and hiking being famous in these regions. Others are further away and make for longer holidays, such as Namibia, Richtersveld, Mountain Zebra, Karoo, Augrabies, Kgalagadi and surrounding areas.

Most importantly, Don't be tempted into hibernation, let this be the season for activation!

Education Focus: Heat and Cold Therapy

" Thermotherapy: the application of heat or cold (cryotherapy) for the purpose of changing the cutaneous, intra-articular and core temperature of soft tissue with the intention of improving the symptoms of certain conditions"

This is the season to get out your hot packs and hot water bottles! Heat therapy is hugely beneficial for many chronic pain conditions, arthritis topping that list.

So how does it help?

The heat application increases the skin and tissue temperature, this causes vasodilatation, increased metabolism and mobility of the tissues. The increase blood flow will increase healing and decrease pain in chronic injuries.

Cold therapy causes vasoconstriction decreasing blood flow, however, if it is left on the skin for more than 10 minute it causes vasodilatation (hunting reflex). This is why ice is recommended for acute injuries. The resulting decreased metabolic rate limits the effects of injuries.

How to use heat/ice pack:

  • Pay attention to the position you are in when applying heat, for instance don't sit with one around your neck if your head is not supported as its weight may cause additional strain

  • Don't use cold therapy for more than 10 minutes at a time

  • Do not add heat to an acutely swollen area

  • Ice should have a barrier between it and your skin - ice burns too!

  • Make sure you test the temperature in your hands before applying it to a painful area, be cautious if you have any decreased or altered sensation

  • If you warm a beanbag in a microwave, fold it so it is in a ball in the middle, not over the plate

  • If you use a hot water bottle, apply pressure to let of the air out first so that it does not form a balloon

  • A quick ice solution is a bag or frozen vegetables (for instance peas and corn)

  • Wrap the heat or ice in a cloth or towel to protect you skin

  • Seek medical attention if you are unsure, usually the application of heat or ice should be part of a strategy, either elevation/compression or movement /exercise

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