Water, Swimming and Cold Weather

One of my favorite things to is spend time in the water.   The ocean, a lake or even an indoor pool is a great way to come in contact with water, one of the five elements of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.  Spending time around or immersed in water is relaxing, focusing and brings us back to our center and our "destiny path" according to Chinese Five Element theory. Swimming is an excellent exercise to decompress the back, especially the low back,  and strengthen mid and lower back muscles which are strained and atrophied by our typical 8 hour + desk workday.   It also builds arm and chest strength, which our pedestrian focused city is often ignored. 

In Chinese Medicine, the back is dominated by Water element.  It's only fitting that swimming and exercising in the water would be one of the most therapeutic forms of exercise for the entire back creating length and stretch as well as building strength with every swimming stroke.  The Water element is governed by the Kidney and Bladder organs, whose meridians flow alongside the spine, from the inner corner of the eye, in two parallel lines down the back of the head and neck, along the spine, down the middle of the hamstrings, the calves and ending on the little toe. 

Today, I was visiting family in Long Island and a group of us took a walk on the beach in 50 degree weather.  The ocean spray with its mineral rich saline mist, and negative ions generated by the breaking waves are therapeutic for everyone.  It's especially curative for upper respiratory conditions, even in the colder weather.  As long as you are wearing appropriate clothing and keeping the head and neck warm, a walk along the ocean can be beneficial for migraines, sinus congestion, allergies, and the common cold.    In Chinese Medicine, the Kidney organ is the root of our immune system or the body's defensive energy.  Strengthening the Kidney and Water element will energetically contribute to a stronger immune system.  

For those who are young and fearless or with great Kidney Yang energy, even a dip in the ocean in 50 degree weather can be beneficial... as with my teenage friend: