Growing up, you may remember your grandparents or older relatives complaining of more aches and pains as the temperature dropped in the depths of winter. As an adult yourself, perhaps you now fully understand the complaints of your elders as you experience your own pain during the coldest months of the year.
While there is debate in the scientific community about the connection between cold weather and back pain, many people do report worsening back and other pain when winter hits. A research study in Sweden of 135,000 construction workers who spent extended hours outside working in the cold found that people who worked outside in colder temperatures complained of increased back and neck pain.
While there has been no scientific evidence to support your Great Aunt Gertie’s claims that she could feel a storm coming in her back, we do know that when you’re cold, you’re more prone to injuries that can cause back pain. These injuries occur because the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back tighten and become less flexible.
Other Cold-Weather Causes of Back Pain
In addition to the physical impacts of cold winter weather, the dark and gloomy days of winter can also impact your mental and emotional health. If your mood dips low enough for long enough, you may experience depression, which has been shown to exacerbate pain perception – meaning, any back pain you do have will likely feel worse if you’re depressed.
Another factor that can increase the risk of back pain during the winter is a lack of exercise. When it’s dark in the morning as we head to work and dark in the evening when we wrap up our work days, it can be tough to feel motivated to get the same amount of exercise we do during warmer, sunnier months. A lack of exercise and stretching leaves us prone to injuries and strains that can cause our back pain to flare up.
Tips For Staying Pain-Free Through the Winter
- Dress for the season: to help avoid injuries that could contribute to your back pain, make sure to stay warm–wear slippers indoors, and use an electric blanket to prevent your muscles from getting cold at night. Dress in warm layers whenever you’re heading outdoors, paying particular attention to keeping your neck and core toasty. Wear non-slip footwear to prevent falls.
- Stay connected: it can be tempting to hibernate the winter away, but a lack of social interactions and isolation negatively impact our emotional well-being and put us at risk of depression.
- Move your body: if you’re somebody who loves exercising outdoors, it can be difficult to keep up your routine during the winter. Find other activities that keep you active outdoors (dressing for the occasion of course) or try indoor activities like swimming or yoga. You’ll be surprised how much being active can help you manage your back pain.
- See a professional: if your winter back pain is impacting your ability to enjoy daily activities or do your job properly, seek medical attention. A chiropractor can also help you assess the root cause of your back pain and come up with a treatment plan to help relieve pain and prevent it moving forward.
Reach Out to Us
All of the doctors at South Orange Chiropractic are dedicated to helping you get to the root cause of your back pain. Reach out today to book your appointment. Let’s get you back to feeling good again.