Winter comes with festive celebrations and fun-filled activities, but it can also bring complications to those with chronic pain. With the cold weather and strenuous snow chores, chronic back pain can become much harder to handle in the winter months. While it can be difficult, there are things you can do to ease your back pain in these low temperatures and still enjoy the season. That’s why we’ve outlined four tips for managing your chronic back pain this winter.
While the cold can definitely make your muscles feel tight, as long as you are proactive about keeping your back limber, you should be able to avoid further straining of the back.
1. Dress Appropriately to Reduce Back Pain in The Cold
Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather conditions so you can avoid pain caused by the cold. Dress in layers when you are heading outside, but make sure you are layering correctly. Your inner layer should be something that will hold more body heat without absorbing moisture, like wool or silk. Next, an insulation layer, like fleece, will help you to retain heat by trapping heat close to your body. Finally, your outer layer should protect you from things like wind, rain, and snow. Look for water and wind-resistant materials to reduce any loss of body heat.
You should also be sure to wear the proper footwear. Wearing the wrong kind of shoes could put you at risk for a slip or fall in icy conditions, which would only serve to worsen your back pain. Aim for a shoe with a rubber sole designed to provide traction on snow and ice.
2. Be Careful Doing Chores to Avoid Further Injury
Winter comes with inevitable chores if you want to keep your home in tip-top shape, or even get out of the driveway each morning. Shoveling snow is bound to become part of your routine at some point throughout the season, so it is best to be as safe about it as you can.
This chore can be hard on any healthy person, so throwing existing back pain into the mix can make for an even harder time. In order to prevent further injury to your back while shoveling, use these tips:
- Don’t rush the task, keep a steady pace and take as many breaks as you need.
- Stretch out your back before, during, and after.
- Bend at the hips and knees to avoid injury.
- If possible, try to push the snow instead of lifting it.
- If needed, wear a back support belt or brace to keep your back safe from new injuries.
3. Keep Your Back Limber to Reduce Risk of Injury
Cold weather can make muscles stiff, especially those who already struggle with chronic pain. By making sure that your back stays limber, you can reduce your risk of injury or strain as your muscles won’t be able to stiffen up. Getting regular exercise is a good way to loosen up, although it is important that the exercise isn’t hard on your back. Some forms of exercise that are good for back pain are:
- Light Weight Lifting - Some light weight lifting can help strengthen and warm your muscles so they don’t contract in the cold.
- Swimming - Swimming is a great way to exercise as the water supports your body weight while taking the strain off of your back.
- Core Exercises - Some abdominal exercises like crunches or bringing your knees to your chest can help you regain strength in your lower back and reduce back pain.
4. Warm Up Your Muscles To Relieve Pain
One way to ease your back pain in the cold weather is to warm it up. Try making heat therapy a part of your daily routine to reduce some of the pain and stiffness you feel. Some things you can try are:
- Apply a heating pad, warm towel, or heating pack to your back for a few minutes a day to relieve pain.
- Swim in a heated pool, sit in a jacuzzi, or take a warm bath. Spending time in some warm water can definitely make you feel better.
- Don’t sit for too long. While it may be tempting to stay on the couch or hide out from the cold, inactivity can actually make your pain worse. Try going for a walk outside, or walking on a treadmill for a bit to keep active.
Having chronic back pain is difficult enough on its own, adding in freezing temperatures only serves to make the problem worse. But, as long as you take proper safety precautions and utilize tips to ease your pain, you should still be able to enjoy your snow days as much as anyone else.
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