Some people have a love-hate relationship with the winter season. The picturesque panorama of a fluffy white blanket of snow covering the surroundings, snowfall, the exciting outdoor activities, and of course, the holiday get-togethers are just some of the things people love about the cold weather. However, the drop in temperature can also bring about back pain problems.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid and deal with back pain during the winter months.
How the Cold Weather Affects Your Back
Freezing weather can have a serious impact on your musculoskeletal health. Those suffering from back injuries may start to notice worsening back pain, while others experience pain in the lower back for the first time. Back pain due to cold air can affect your daily activities.
Here are 6 reasons why back pain is a common problem during winter:
- People become less active during winter. The shorter days and longer nights can decondition your minds. The chilly air also makes it more tempting to spend most of the day in the warmth and comfort of your home sitting or curled up in front of the fireplace. As a result, the body is not able to maintain stability and strength. Prolonged sitting and poor posture can put more stress on your back. When you do not stretch out your muscles and joints regularly, it could lead to muscle tightness and joint stiffness.
- Shivering causes the muscles to tense up. The increased tension in your back muscles can make them feel tight and painful. If you already suffer from tight back muscles, the decrease in temperature can worsen the tightness, causing you more pain.
- Winter can make people less thirsty, so they tend to drink less water. Reduced water supply in the body can result in the narrowing of the spinal disc and back pain. Dehydrated discs lose their ability to carry the load, forcing other structures to take more pressure.
- More people gain weight since they tend to eat more and exercise less during winter. The stress and pressure caused by extra weight can take a toll on your lower back.
- Seasonal depression is common during winter. This type of depression usually occurs at the start of fall and lasts through the winter months. Seasonal depression does not only cause fatigue and decreased interest in your favourite activities but also cause or aggravate back pain.
How to Have a Back Pain-Free Winter
Now that you know how cold temperature can affect your back, let us explore what you can do to prevent back pain from cold weather so you can enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.
- Stretching and Exercise – For the sake of your back health, make sure to stretch to warm up your muscles for bending and twisting when you need to clean your house or shovel the snow off your driveway. Take some time to engage in a regular indoor workout program. Walking for at least 30 minutes can help prevent your risk of back pain. If you need to stop for breaks, do so, to minimize straining your back joints and muscles.
- Shovel Snow with Caution – Shoveling snow is one of the most common chores in the winter. However, it can be a strenuous task for anyone at any age, especially for a person with a back pain history. Before you go outside and shovel piles of snow from your driveway or in your front yard, take a few precautions to prevent pain from flaring up:
- Keep a steady pace and avoid rushing to finish the task.
- Listen to your body and take occasional breaks to stretch your back.
- If possible, simply push the snow aside instead of lifting.
- Avoid bending your lower back to avoid injury. Bend at the hip and knees instead.
- If necessary, wear a back support belt to prevent back pain.
- Wear the Right Footwear – The number of slip and fall accidents is higher compared to other seasons. Before heading outside, be sure to wear the right outdoor gear, such as proper footwear. A pair of shoes or boots with rubber soles provides good traction and foot support while walking on the road.
- Pay Attention to Your Mood – Seasonal depression can contribute to or exacerbate backache. Being proactive during the winter season can help you prevent getting the winter woes, as well as an achy back. Talk to your healthcare provider and plan your days ahead with your favourite activities as a pre-emptive strike against the winter blues.
- Eat a Healthy, Anti-Inflammatory Diet – Some food options can cause inflammation of the muscles and joints, while others combat it. With the abundance of foods and holiday treats, winter is a critical time to be smarter when it comes to your dietary choices. While it is okay to enjoy one of your grandmother’s cookies, always remember to eat in moderation. Eat a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. Load up on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy fats, whole grains and lean cuts of organic meats. Avoid fried foods, sweet treats, sugary beverages, highly processed foods, and chips. Consulting a dietician or nutritionist can help you choose the healthiest foods and dietary supplements that help promote a healthy and pain-free back.
- Get Physiotherapy Treatment – If you have a history of back injury or back pain, the winter season might cause you more pain. Be sure to find a trusted care clinic that offers exceptional physiotherapy services. The physiotherapist or physical therapist will educate and guide you through the various stretches and exercises to reduce your risk of injury and prevent the re-occurrence of back pain.
These are only several remedies for back pain due to cold weather. With proper care and the right treatment, back pain can resolve on its own. If the freezing temperature has caused or worsened your back pain, book an appointment at Oriole Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Centre. After a careful assessment of your health, we will offer you a treatment and care program that provides long-term relief. If you are ready to revive the quality of your life, call us today at (416) 221-0772 to book an appointment with our licensed physiotherapist in North York.