Temperatures are falling, and you’ve started to notice a familiar ache in your neck, lower back, or perhaps another part of your spine that was previously injured. You assume that the two things are connected – colder weather and discomfort in your back muscles and joints – and you hope that you won’t be racked with pain all Winter. Just be thankful that here in Sydney, we don’t have to shovel snow from our driveways through Winter!
To date, there is no scientific evidence linking cold weather to an increase in back pain. One thing we do know is that when you’re cold, the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back tighten and become less flexible, thereby making them much more prone to injuries.
The takeaway from this is that Winter back problems may be avoidable when you wear the right clothing to keep you warm, stretch your muscles regularly, and stay active rather than hibernating during Winter.
Combat cold-weather pain with your own heat
If the cold makes your pain worse, try incorporating heat therapy into your daily routine. Heat therapy decreases stiffness and promotes healing through increased circulation.
Here are a few ideas for adding heat to your routine:
- Apply a hot pack, warm towel, or heating pad to the painful area. Simply doing this for 20 minutes at a time may be enough for temporary pain relief.
- Use over-the-counter heat wraps. Available in most grocery stores/pharmacies, heat wraps can provide warmth for joint-related back pain and other symptoms for up to 8 hours at a time.
- Try water therapy. You may experience pain relief by swimming in a heated indoor pool a few times per week, or by soaking a whirlpool or hot bath.
- Stay active. It can be tempting to hibernate during cold weather, but inactivity can increase some types of pain. Doing a few pelvic curls, and gentle abdominal exercises each morning and night will help keep your muscles and joints moving, and increase your circulation.
Weather changes are unavoidable, but you can take steps to manage the worst effects of it. Please see one of our Pilates Connection instructors the next time you’re in the studio if you’d like some exercises to take home to help with Winter back pain.