Back pain is a perennial pain for many people, but it can get especially bad in winter. The cold weather can often cause the muscles to lose heat and contract, which can then cause stiffness throughout the body, particularly in the back. This stiffness and tightness can also put some strain on the spine and pull on sensitive nerves, leading to your experiencing pain. If you’ve already experienced some back pain already, the winter months can exacerbate the problem.
Fortunately, there are always some things you can do to alleviate the worst of the symptoms. Here’s a list of tips to help you beat the aches and get some relief for your back pain.
1. Keep exercising
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to keep up your health in general, but it’s particularly good for fighting off back pain. A common mistake many make during the winter months is neglecting exercise because of the cold weather and abundant holiday treats. However, getting some regular exercise is a good way to maintain flexibility and alleviate stiffness. If you have a myriad of chores that require physical strength, like clearing the driveway or walkway of snow, exercise prepares your body for the bending and twisting you’ll need to do to complete those tasks.
Try out some winter exercise to stay fit this winter season. When it’s too cold to go out, do some indoor exercises like yoga to sneak in a little exercise even when you’re snowed in. Before you start, always remember to do some warmups to get your muscles ready for a workout and avoid excess strain.
2. Remember to wear the right clothes
Dressing warmly does more for you than keep you comfortable when the temperature starts dropping. Warm clothes are an effective means of keeping the muscles limber and preventing them from getting cold and stiff so you avoid the worst of any winter muscle pains.
Dress in layers so you can retain as much warmth as possible whenever you step outside. While you’re at it, wear the right footwear to prevent slipping. Falls are another hazard that can hurt your back, especially when the ground gets slippery due to ice and snow. Stay safe while keeping back pain at bay by not wearing high-heeled shoes that can put a strain on your back muscles. Stick to rubber-soled shoes with good traction and excellent foot support so you can stay balanced as you walk.
3. Watch your diet
Eating healthy is a no-brainer when it comes to maintaining good health. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise is one of the most effective measures you can take to keep your muscles active and beat your back pain. The holidays are also a common time for overindulging in seasonal goodies like turkey, so take care to watch how much you eat. Increased weight puts more strain on your joints and muscles, particularly those in the back. To prevent any unexpected flare-ups, eat those goodies in moderation to help regulate your weight.
Another thing you can do is eat more foods containing magnesium like dry fruits and pumpkin seeds. These foods help the body absorb calcium to help strengthen your bones. The magnesium also works as a muscle relaxant, which can help soothe the muscles and relieve back pain.
4. Modify your sleep position
One common remedy to chronic back pain is modifying your nightly sleep position. A poor sleep position puts undue strain on your back as you sleep, which you may notice if you find yourself prone to waking up with a sore neck or throbbing back. If you prefer sleeping on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees, and another one under your lower back to give your back, hips, and neck more support. A healthier position is sleeping on your side with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest. Avoid sleeping on your belly. It puts pressure on your back and forces you to turn your neck all the way to the side so you can breathe.
Another thing you can do to improve your sleep quality is to consider getting a new mattress. As a mattress gets old, it becomes less supportive, which can spoil your sleep posture and interfere with sleep. When choosing a new mattress, the ideal one is one that offers medium tension. In contrast to the common perception, firmer isn’t necessarily better when it comes to mattresses. Shop around for a mattress that feels firm but comfortable to help improve your sleep quality and back health.
5. Take an Epsom salt bath
After you’ve been out in the cold, it’s common to want a warm bath to counter the cold. However, you can take it to the next level by adding in a capful of Epsom salt to help relieve sore muscles. As you soak, your body absorbs the magnesium in the water, which helps flush the lactic acid in your muscles. Lactic acid is a byproduct of muscular exertion, like exercise or shovelling snow, so this bath may be just what you need to relax swollen, tired muscles.
6. Apply ice and heat
Hot and cold compresses are one of the more effective back pain remedies available to you. Ice packs are great for reducing swelling, especially if you apply them within the first 24 to 48 hours of the pain’s appearance. Wrap the pack in a towel, and apply to your back for up to 20 minutes. After the first two days, alternate between hot and cold packs. A hot pack can increase blood flow and relax tight muscles, which can relieve the aches and speed up healing.
7. Watch your mood
Your mental state often has effects on your body. Low moods and stress, in particular, can contribute to muscle pain, which is especially difficult in winter when the weather can add to any issues. Take steps to keep yourself relaxed and centred to fight off the worst of any mental issues. Practices like yoga, meditation, and massage therapy are a great way to boost your mood and relax your muscles while you’re at it.
Consider using some of your free time to avail of a good massage to help relax and refresh your mind and body. Another thing to watch for in winter is the winter blues. Seasonal depression can make you more sensitive to back pain, so be vigilant if you’re experiencing aches or dealing with any stress. If you’ve noticed yourself feeling down around this time of year, take steps to be more proactive and fill your days with more enjoyable activities to help pre-empt any aches and pains.
Whatever you do to beat your winter back pains, remember to get plenty of rest as you do. Getting plenty of sleep and rest is a great way to give your body time to bounce back. Give yourself some time and be patient, and after a few days, your body should be ready to make a comeback.
Muscle pain is a reality too many people have to deal with, but at Fairway Chiropractic we’re here to make the problem easier to bear. We offer non-invasive chiropractic services to ease the aches and pains and restore your body to full mobility. Give us a call now at (519) 748-5535 to give your body a much-needed boost to healing.