Causes of Winter Back Pain and Ways to Prevent Injury
Feeling the winter aches and pains? Freezing temperatures, icy winds, slippery snow and risky winter activities can wreak havoc on your body in surprising, and often unavoidable ways making your body vulnerable to injury. Here are some causes of your winter body ache and what you can do to feel better and help prevent pain.
Whenever it gets cold, our bodies have the natural instinct to tense up to protect our inner organs and we naturally shiver because it’s our bodies way of causing motion to create heat as a way of getting warmer. This can stress your muscles and make them achier at the end of the day, therefore making them more prone to injury.
Fix: Keep moving to lubricate your joints and keep warm to prevent your body from tensing up. I know it might seem hard at first to move since your body just wants to tense up, but you will quickly feel better. Be sure to include a scarf with your outer winter wear to prevent neck pain as well caused by this tensing in the chill.
Walking on ice can be very difficult in itself for even the most dexterous among us as we try to balance our bodies through the slippery snow, but carrying bags in the house or wearing heals on top of it is a recipe for disaster. Many serious accidents such as fractures and sprains happen this way during this time of the year. Also, as we walk on slippery surfaces, your body unconsciously tenses up to brace itself for a fall. If you slip while walking on ice, you are more apt to pull a muscle if you are tense than if you fell while you were more relaxed.
Fix: Wear proper non-slip comfortable shoes, shuffle step while walking without lifting your feet, and be conscious of your body tension.
Each year, about 11,500 people get treated for injuries caused from snow-shoveling. Anyone who has been through a very active snowy winter knows that shoveling loads of snow can cause back, shoulder and chest pain. If you suffer from heart problems, do not attempt to shovel at any point and get someone to do it for you. The wetter the snow, the heavier it gets so try to shovel the snow before it gets a chance to melt.
Fix: Start out by stretching your shoulder muscles beforehand. When shoveling, use your legs and arms to lift, push snow forward straight ahead of you instead of throwing, and shovel in both directions avoiding sudden twisting motions. Lift small light loads instead of trying to tackle big loads all at once. Use a proper ergonomic shovel that is lightweight with a curved shaft which will help you keep your back upright.
As if walking isn’t hard enough to do on ice, there are many fun winter activities and sports that we love to do such as skiing, snowboarding and skating. There is no denying that injuries can result from these sports as people fall often during these sports no matter how much of an expert you may be. If you can’t avoid partaking in these activities, the least you can do is to prepare your body before these activities to help prevent injury.
Fix: Stretch before by doing squats and lunging exercises beforehand
During the winter, we don’t drink water as often as we should like we do during the warmer days because we are too busy trying to concentrate of keeping warm. So instead of keeping hydrated with water, we rely on warm, caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea. These drinks are a diuretic which increase the excretion of water from bodies making you more dehydrated.
Fix: Drink plenty of water (room temperature if you want to avoid cold drinks) and try not to rely on warm caffeinated drinks.
Lack of Vitamin D
With the days being shorter and dimmer, the lack of sun during the winter months can deprive our bodies of much needed Vitamin D. A lack of Vitamin D con often contribute towards musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the lower back.
Fix: Take a daily dose of a Vitamin D supplement and it is highly recommended that you take a short walk during your lunch break to catch any sun shine is possible.