10 Great Wintertime Tips to Care for Your Back

It’s that time of the year again. The snow falls, the sweaters come out, and all you want to do is curl up under a blanket, but something is wrong. You feel pain in your back, now more than ever.

The winter season is here, and many people like you suffer from acute back pain during the colder months. At Mehling Orthopedics, we’re here to help with 10 simple tips to keep your back healthy in the wintertime. 

Back pain: Why is this happening to me?

A Harvard Special Health Report notes that 80% of Americans will experience a form of back pain sometime in their life, affecting men and women equally. Many people report greater pain when temperatures drop.

This is usually the case when vasoconstriction occurs: In lower temperatures, your body sends more blood to your brain, heart, lungs, and bowels to keep them warm. This means less blood flows to your joints and lower back, causing the muscles, ligaments, and tendons located there to stiffen.

These stiff muscles cause the pain you feel in your back. You may also feel pain because low temperatures reduce air pressure, causing your joints to expand. This inflammation of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons cause you additional pain in your spinal joint.  

To fight your back pain, you want to develop habits that help keep your muscles relaxed and your joints loose. Luckily, you can do many of them home. 

What can I do about wintertime back pain?  

There are many things you can do on your own to help you get through this chilly season. Here are 10 tips we recommend you try. 

 

  1. Keep moving. Exercise, exercise, exercise. The best thing you can do for your back is to engage in activities that keep your body moving and your blood flowing. We recommend low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, and indoor aerobics — these help fight muscle inflammation. Make sure to stay as active as you can daily. What’s good for your heart is also good for your back.
  2. Always wear layers. Keep your body as warm as possible. Don’t skimp out on the sweaters, scarves, gloves, and hats. Your body will thank you. 
  3. Warm the air around you. When at home, make sure you turn the heat up to a comfortable level. It is important that you keep yourself warm while you’re indoors, as this helps your muscles relax. 
  4. Get that security blanket. If your regular blankets aren’t cutting it, invest in an electric blanket to help you stay warm when you’re cuddled up in bed or on your couch as you drift off to sleep.
  5. Think about posture. Improving your posture while you sit can do wonders for your back. Most people spend their workdays sitting, and improper posture can put unnecessary strain on your lower back. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, and avoid slouching or leaning forward. This simple habit can reduce the tension in your back. 
  6. Watch what you eat. Avoid foods that may cause muscle inflammation such as red meat, fried foods, sugars, and starches. Reducing these foods in your diet can help ease some of that pain and help you stay active. 
  7. And what you drink. Staying hydrated is important. Lower temperatures increase your brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical that makes you drowsy and less energetic. Water helps combat these effects so you can stay active and continue your daily exercise. This may also mean turning down that glass of wine, as alcohol tends to cause dehydration in your body.
  8. Treat injury properly. If your back aches because of an injury, it’s important to reduce the heat at first with a cold compress or ice pack. This numbs the muscles and reduces swelling. After a couple of days, you can apply a heating pad or hot water bottle to relax your muscles and alleviate the pain. After a week, things start to feel much better. 
  9. Take a bath. A salt bath, that is. Taking a bath with Epsom salt has many benefits. Epsom salt works its way through your skin and into your sore muscles. After soaking in warm water for 20 minutes, your back muscles relax and your pain fades away. Taking an Epsom salt bath is especially useful after exercise.
  10. Get a massage. Sometimes, all you need is a therapeutic massage to relieve the tension in your muscles. Splurge a little and treat yourself to a spa day to ease that nagging pain. 


Is something still not working? For specialized evaluation and treatment, please contact the team at Mehling Orthopedics. We have convenient locations in Hackensack, New Jersey, and West Islip, New York.

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