Many people who suffer from recurring back pain find that their symptoms can worsen in the colder months. This is often due to a combination of factors: we’re moving less, muscles can be stiff and tight due to the cold weather, and if it’s icy, there’s a risk of falling and causing yourself an injury.
We tend to see an increase in patients dealing with back pain over winter, but our experienced clinicians are on hand with lots of useful advice. Here are our team’s top tips for avoiding back pain this winter.
Keep moving. Although it can be harder to get outside and get moving when the days are shorter and it’s cold outside, regular gentle exercise will help keep your muscles limber and help to prevent any tightness. A brisk walk is a great way to get your blood flowing, which can help with inflammation; if it’s really cold outside, try walking on the treadmill at the gym. Pilates, dance classes, or HIIT workouts are all good options for exercise you can do indoors, at the gym or at home.
Choose the right clothes for winter conditions. Making sure you’re wrapped up warmly, with thermals underneath your clothes if it’s really cold outside, will help keep your muscles warm and prevent aches and pains arising from cold temperatures. If it’s snowy or icy, choose sturdy footwear with good grip: this will help keep you upright and prevent slips or falls.
Stretch. A short, regular stretching routine is a great way to prevent back pain, which can often be caused by tight muscles. Try making time for 10 or 15 minutes in the morning, or ask your Physiotherapist or Osteopath for some stretching exercises to stick to.
Take care when carrying out winter jobs. If you suffer from back pain, it can often be aggravated by tasks that require stretching, reaching or lifting things at odd angles. In winter, this might mean shovelling snow, putting up Christmas lights or decorations, or carrying lots of shopping bags. Be extra careful when doing any heavy lifting, and if you feel any pain, stop what you’re doing and ask for help.
Try heat therapy. Chronic back pain can be alleviated with the application of heat: try a hot water bottle on the area that’s hurting, or a warm bath. If you’ve got access to a swimming pool, a swim in a heated pool can help you twofold: the warm water should help with relieving your back pain, and it’s a great, low-impact way to stay active.
If you’d like some support dealing with back pain this winter, book an appointment with one of our clinicians. As well as treating your pain, they’ll help you find ways to avoid back pain in future, and our multi-disciplined team will put together a treatment plan that’ll see you stronger, fitter and ready to start the new year.