If you notice that your back pain tends to be more pronounced in the winter months, you're not alone. It may not be the cold making you ache, though!
It's not uncommon for sufferers of back pain to notice more discomfort as winter's hold gets a little tighter. In fact, many of our patients have pointed out that their symptoms tend to get more noticeable along with the arrival of consistent cold weather. There are many variables, and the reason for increased pain can vary from case to case.
Many of our clients resort to taking more pain medication during winter months, which only masks the problem, rather than resolves it. We also hear of patients buying new shoes, new mattresses, even new chairs to find the cause of what they perceive as a 'new' pain that seems to come on strongly from December to March. But what they're really doing is ignoring the root issue of their symptoms, which is often week muscles and improperly aligned vertebrae.
For many sufferers, back pain isn't a seasonal issue, it's just that winter makes their symptoms more unbearable. This isn't the cold wreaking havoc; it's often inactivity! By spending less time active and moving, our bodies can quickly lose the supportive muscle tissue in our back, neck, and shoulders that help promote efficient and protective posture. That slow deterioration throughout the fall and winter season can add up, causing much deeper issues that make even going for a walk seem too painful.
The key is to keep moving; bundle up and get outside, and you'll often find that the weather is rarely too frightful for a walk! You can also work in exercise by heading the mall and walking, taking an extra loop or two through the supermarket, or parking a few blocks from work and walking in the rest of the way. If you need help keeping yourself accountable, recruit a few friends to walk before or after work; you're less likely to skip out if your pals are waiting for you!
Start with ten to fifteen minute walks and build up to twenty and thirty minutes. You can also look to join a gym that offers cardio equipment like elliptical machines that offer a low-impact alternative to running and walking, as well as giving you a place to move out of the elements. Find something you enjoy, and stick with it, even if it means making a trip or stop on the way home from work to make it happen.
Additionally, check with your chiropractor to make sure your back is healthy enough to begin exercise. They can also suggest a number of stretches and exercises that may target weak muscles contributing to your back pain or poor posture. Check in often with bi-monthly appointments when your symptoms are at their worst during winter, and build slowly to eliminate the cause of your discomfort.
Winter doesn't have to slow you down, and we can help you keep moving no matter how chilly things get!