If you suffer from chronic back pain, there is rarely a time when the pain caused by it isn’t immense. However, if you are a chronic sufferer, you probably experience the worst pain in the winter time.
Most sufferers of chronic back pain report feeling horrible bouts of pain when the winter weather comes rolling around, and this is not at all a coincidence. There is a legitimate medical explanation for why back pain gets worse in the winter.
In this article, we’ll discuss not only why back pain gets worse in the winter, but what you can do to fight off this winter back pain. Are you ready to get into this? Let’s go!
Reasons for Increased Back Pain in the Winter
There is no one reason for why back pain gets worse in the winter. Everything from environmental reasons, to atmospheric reasons, to physical reasons are at play, and can make a big difference. It’s important to be cognizant of all of these factors so that you can best prevent them from affecting you.
Muscles Contract in the Cold
One of the reasons that back pain increases in the winter is that cold weather causes the muscles to contract. When the muscles contract, the blood vessels restrict blood flow. When muscles do not receive proper blood flow, they experience numbness and aching.
In addition to this, when muscles are contracted, they become exceedingly vulnerable to strains and tears. Exercising in cold climates leaves you extraordinarily susceptible to injury; not only injury to your back, but injury to every other muscle in your body as well.
Barometric Pressure is Low
Barometric pressure simply refers to the pressure which exists in Earth’s atmosphere. When the weather gets colder, barometric pressure gets lower. The various different stimuli in the Earth’s atmosphere respond to this low pressure in a number of different ways. The joints respond to low barometric pressure by sending out signals of pain to the brain.
In essence, when it’s cold outside, the pressure change in the Earth’s atmosphere causes pain in the body that you can’t do anything to stop. It’s a strange, but real phenomenon that is, for all intents and purposes, uncontrollable.
You Engage in Less Exercise
Exercise is an absolutely vital part of maintaining good back health. To stave off back pain, you must practice good posture. To practice good posture, you require adequate core strength. And to gain adequate core strength, you must exercise regularly.
In most cases, when winter rolls around, we tend to exercise less. This is because we spend less time outdoors and have a harder time making it to the gym. Because we’re not able to work our muscles out, our body doesn’t receive quite the same support that it normally would.
You’re Forced to Put Your Body in Compromising Positions
The chilly cold that winter brings forces us to live our lives with compromise. In order to face the cold, we must do things that we otherwise wouldn’t do. Not only does it force us to sit inside much more than we normally would, it forces us to contort into strange positions just to stay a tad bit warmer.
Forcing ourselves into unorthodox positions such as the fetal position puts strain on our backs. This strain, when maintained over a prolonged period of time, eventually starts to cause pain. This is just another reason why winter results in worse back pain than any other time of the year.
Fighting Off Back Pain in the Winter
It’s certainly important to understand why back pain gets worse in the winter, but what’s even more important to understand is how to fight off this winter back pain. A number of measures can be enacted in order to do so, quite a few of which are listed below.
Apply Heat Packs
As was noted above, when winter rolls around, it brings with it quite a bit of cold. Unfortunately, this cold causes the muscles to contract, restricting blood flow, and causing aches and pains.
In order to counteract this contracting, you need to make use of heat. Applying heat packs to the back and to the rest of the body can help to loosen up the muscles in the back, allowing for greater expansion and improved blood flow.
Moist heat, in particular, is good to apply to the back. Filing a plastic bag with hot water and applying this bag to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time can work wonders. Doing so 2 or 3 times a day will keep your body loose, and stave off serious pain.
Again, because cold weather causes your muscles to contract, you need to do everything in your power to counteract the contraction. In addition to applying heat packs, you must also engage in regular stretching.
Stretching out the muscles in a controlled manner will keep them loose and allow them to operate with flexibility. This will reduce the chance of injury, and help to reduce any pain which is already present.
As you might have read above, one of the reasons that back pain increases in the winter time is because people don’t exercise as much as they do during the rest of the year. Because their muscles are not at optimal strength, they don’t provide adequate support to the body. This results in slouching and poor posture.
It’s key that you maintain a regular exercise regimen. Performing core exercises, in particular, can provide a great deal of support for your back. Don’t let the sleet, snow, and wind stop you.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
A stiff muscle is a vulnerable muscle. When muscles are stiff, they are beyond susceptible to injury. The key to keeping your muscles from stiffening up is to keep them as warm as technologically possible.
Make sure that whenever you go outside, you’re wearing clothing which is appropriate for the weather. If it’s 30 degrees outside, make sure that you’re wearing a thick winter coat. If it’s 0 degrees outside, make sure you’re wearing plenty of layers. The warmer you can keep your muscles, the less pain you’ll experience in your back.
Use a Posture Corrector
If you are having trouble getting to the gym and squeezing in exercise sessions, your muscles likely aren’t quite as supportive as they normally are. What this means is that your posture could very well be suffering.
A good way to compensate for this reduction in posture quality is by making use of a posture corrector. Posture correctors are essentially pieces of clothing which you wear around your shoulders, waist, or midsection. They apply pressure to specific portions of the torso, lending it support, and allowing it to maintain good posture.
By helping you maintain good posture throughout the winter, posture correctors can help to stave off the additional back pain that winter normally brings. Like knee or arm braces do for the limbs, posture correctors provide support for the back.
Winter is a grueling time of year for many reasons. Not only does it bring snow, ice, and cold, but rather serious pain as well. While sufferers of chronic back pain are likely experiencing periods of extreme agony in the winter time, there is something they can do about it.
By understanding why winter increases back pain, and following the above listed tips, you, as a sufferer of chronic back pain, stand a chance of beating winter weather. Don’t let winter run your life. Fight back and take control.