How to Loosen up Winter Stiffness


John Paul Ouvrier

John Paul Ouvrier

Is it cold where you are?  Has your body tightened up from the cold and snow?  Well if so, here are some wonderful ways to get you up and going again.

Science has not proven that cold makes muscles stiffer directly.  It has been proven that changes in barometric pressure affects joints.  Some of us have weather men who can predict today’s weather living in our knees!  We know that our blood flow changes to protect our vital organs when it’s cold and certain medications don’t help.  Yet the big culprit when it’s cold is usually from not enough movement.  (However, be safe and check with your doctor.)

So how do we move more when it’s cold, when we can’t get out and move more?  Here are some exercises to do, in a seated position to help move things around to increase the blood flow.  And don’t let the body fool you just because you have the ability to not feel the cold- stay extra warm.

You can do these exercises anytime of the day, especially if you’ve been sitting for a while.  The goal is to get the blood moving around and these exercises are easy.  Therefore, you can do them as many times as you need as they are designed to energize you.  Here we go:

First, divide the body into two areas; the lower body and the upper body. 

          The Lower Body; the Legs

Sit up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Foot Rolls:  Pick up one foot at a time, a few inches off the ground, or whatever is comfortable, and roll each foot around ten times clockwise, then counter clockwise.
  • Foot Pointers: In the same position, one foot at a time, point the toes away from you, and then flex them back toward you ten times on each foot.
  • Leg Extensions and Heel Pull Backs:  With one leg at a time, extend the foot away from you until the leg is straight, tightening up the muscles on top of the legs above the knees (the quadriceps).  The easiest way to do this is to place your finger tips on the leg muscle itself right above the knee and try to tighten that muscle up.  Next, once the leg is extended, pull the heel back down toward the floor tightening up the underside of the leg.  Do this ten times on each leg.
  • Butt Squeezers:  Sitting with both feet flat on the floor, squeeze the butt muscles in nice and tight.  And if you end up squeezing all the muscles that control the flow of urine at the same time, which many people do, that’s okay.  Do this ten times.

The Upper Body; Everything Else

Same position; sitting up tall in the chair.       

  • Loosen up your shoulders FIRST!  When the shoulders tighten up, your head pushes forward and the back rounds forward.  This pushes down the chest, squashing your intestines and lungs, making deep breathing difficult.  This in turn makes you feel tired and lazy, which doesn’t help when it’s cold.  Not only that, this pitches your body weight forward, which automatically hurts the balance.  
    • Roll the shoulders around.  Sitting up tall, and breathing deeply, lift both shoulders up to the ears, relaxing the neck area, and the pull them both backwards while you breathe in deeply.  (You may find this action similar to a yawn.)  Do this ten times.
    • Roll the shoulders the other way.  Same idea, yet instead of front to back, pull the shoulders backwards first and then bring them up.  Do this ten times.
    • Roll each shoulder separately.  You can roll one shoulder and then the other, or roll one at a time.  (If you do both, you might just start dancing!)  Do this ten times on each side.
    • Turn your back and head to each side.  Lifting up tall and breathing deeply turn as far as you can twist to the right, and then left.  Work on twisting your back first- NOT THE HEAD, and holding for thirty seconds on each side.  Then go back to a forward facing position and turn the head gently, side to side for ten times on each side.  (Don’t turn too much!)
    • Then move the arms around.  Move them back and forth and shake them out some, and you should be good to go!

The idea is to get good blood flow into the muscles and to turn on all the nerves in the body so that your movement is safe and easy. Let this article be a guide to get you started; adjust or move in ways that are better suited to you.  Stay warm and God Bless!


John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice.  The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice.  Contact him at, and bring him in to entertain your audiences! &



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