Winter is closing in on us and with that many of us are noticing more aches and pains throughout our body, in particular, back pain. Coincidence? I think not. Although there is little scientific evidence to support this correlation, there is most certainly a connection between the cold weather and the aches and pains we experience.
When we step outside on a chilly winters day, we tend to distort our posture and tense up our muscles to cope with the cold. This is done subconsciously as a means to warming up the body.
When your muscles contract, they burn energy that is released as heat. When we are in need of quick and efficient warming up, our muscles rapidly contract and relax, releasing energy fast. This response we know as shivering. Shivering is the body’s natural response to warming the body.
You may also notice that in the cold, you tend to drop your head and raise your shoulders, which causes your hips to tuck under and your lower back to flatten out. This allows you to share your shoulders body heat with your neck and ears. This is another natural bodily reaction, but a reaction that distorts posture throughout your back and pelvis.
Muscle tension is a common cause of back pain. Therefore, when tensing muscles in order to fight against the cold, the body may warm up, but will also alter the body’s posture and contribute to back pain.
Soreness in the neck, shoulders and lower back can all be a result of muscle tension, exacerbated by the cold weather. So in order to prevent this common occurrence, there are a few helpful tips to get you through the winter, pain free:
- Dress for the climate: By wearing the correct clothing, we can assist our body in maintaining an optimal core body temperature. So pop on a beanie and wrap your self in a scarf, it will help to ease muscle tension and hold a correct body posture.
- Exercise: Particularly indoor and swimming exercises are a great way to warm up the body and increase blood flow throughout the body, easing chronic muscular tension in the process.
- Stretching: Limbering up can be an easy tool to lengthen our short, tight muscles. When our posture becomes hunched over and cramped, the best way to combat that fixed position is to stretch.
- Soft tissue therapy and muscle manipulation: Sometimes our muscles have been held in a state of tension for too long, so the only way to release that tension is through physical therapy. Myotherapy will not only restore muscles to their optimal resting length, it can also correct any postural imbalances that may be causing associated chronic and acute pain. Including headaches, shoulder, neck, lower back, knee and leg pain.