Winter is well and truly on its way. For many this means warm clothes, roaring fires and hot chocolates. However, the cold can also change a person’s posture which can lead to severe back pain. For example, when it is cold outside, it is a natural reaction is to curl up, slouch or shiver; all of which significantly changes the shape of the upper body. It is the unfortunate reality that the adoption of this temporary postural position can cause a number of pains and problems.

It is relatively unclear as to why people feel more pain during the winter months, especially in the neck, back and shoulders region. However, there are a handful of studies which suggest that there is a slight correlation between the temperatures dropping and increased pain. There is also a substantial amount of anecdotal proof that conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis flare up during winter months.

In fact, during winter everyone is vulnerable to the cold. This could be anything from icy conditions on the road to muscle stiffness. These feelings of vulnerability can particularly heighten if you have a neurological condition when the temperature plummets. However, there are many ways to relieve these symptoms, below are just a few.

Keep warm:

Perhaps the most obvious thing that you can do when trying to battle the cold is to try and keep warm. There are various ways that you can do this but when you’re out and about ensure that your hands and feet are warm by wearing thermal gloves and socks. Similarly, try wearing a woollen hat as it is thought that up to 70% of heat is actually radiated from your head.

Another great way of keeping warm is to heat your home. It is considered that the ideal temperature for your home is between 18 and 22 centigrade. If cost is a consideration then try to insulate your home better. For example cavity, loft and wall insulation are fantastic ways to reduce costs whilst keeping the house warmer.

A final way of improving both mental and physical health, whilst also reducing the effects of the cold weather is to submerge yourself into warm water. This form of hydrotherapy is great for those with stiff joints, arthritis or general chronic or back pain. You will most likely experience pain relief by soaking in a swimming pool, hot tub or bath just a few times a week.

Stay active:

If you’re experiencing back pain, then the last thing that you’re going to want to do is any form of physical activity. However, it really does go a long way in helping in the long run due to the fact that inactivity works to increase certain types of pain. If you would prefer not to go the gym or venture outside then consider getting a treadmill in your home where you’re able to walk whilst watching the TV or listening to music.

Diet:

Following on from staying active, it is also crucial to understand just how your diet can affect your health in the winter. For example, according to a study, it is crucial to stay hydrated as even a mild dehydration ensures that you are more sensitive to pain. Furthermore, it is needless to say that during winter months the average consumption of food increases and so does peoples body weight. Having more weight ultimately puts more strain on the body and increases the chances of developing a bad back. It is essential to eat well in order to maintain energy levels. However, it is also important to ensure that you don’t put on excess weight, making the strain on your back greater.

Get your daily dose of vitamin D:

It is understood that sensitivity to pain from arthritis is increased when you’re exposed to low levels of vitamin D. It is true to say that you’re less likely to get a natural source of vitamin D in the winter as the sun is out far less often. This is why it is essential to consider talking to your doctor about the potential vitamin D supplements that are available. Alternatively, if you’re able to afford going away to a sunnier climate then this would be the best solution.

Help elderly neighbours:

They say that this time of year is the season of goodwill and it is important to practice this to your elderly neighbours. Check on neighbours or relatives regularly during the winter to make sure that they are getting regular activity and are warm enough at night. It’s also important to ensure they have enough food and medication so that it is not absolutely necessary for them to go out during the extreme wintery conditions. Also, by keeping warm, you have a greater chance of improving posture and thus reducing the chances of incurring back pain.

It is clear to see that there is a link between the colder months and increased back pain. However, there is no definite way of trying to remedy this. Having said that, keeping warm, eating well and regularly, as well as staying active will all contribute to creating an environment where your back is free from pain.