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Relieving Back Pain During the Winter Season

Feb 02, 2011

Three Ways to Prevent an Aching Lower Back During Cold and Icy Weather

For more information contact:
Karyn Odway, (312) 479-1271
CyanPoint Communications

The winter months can be hard on the back. The cold temperatures affect hydration levels and overall muscle tone. Frigid weather also causes many people to tighten their muscles, and for those muscles supporting the spine, it could trigger vertebrae misalignment. Shoveling big heaps of snow can strain the lower back. And catching your balance after a slip on the ice, or worse yet, actually falling can lead to back pain that will last all season.

Some 65 million Americans suffer from low back pain. It’s the second most common reason for visits to the doctor and the third most common cause of surgery.

“Many daily activities during the winter months add stress on the lower back,” said Krzysztof “Kris” Siemionow, M.D., spine surgeon at the Chicago Center for Orthopedics at Weiss Memorial Hospital and assistant professor of clinical orthopaedics at the University of Illinois-Chicago. “By watching how you move and by taking other precautionary measures, people can avoid back pain and injury.”

Before you pick up the snow shovel, walk down an icy path or brave the frigid temperatures, consider these Healthful Hints from the Chicago Center for Orthopedics on preventing low back pain:

  • Hydrate: Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can lead to muscle aches, pains and spasms, affecting posture and putting you at risk for injury.
  • Warm up: Make sure that you warm up prior to venturing outdoors. Marching in place for a minute or two is a good way to get the blood flowing to critical parts of your body. Warming up the body is essential for unlocking tight muscles, which is the cause of injury.
  • Lift with Your Legs: When lifting snow with a shovel or other heavy items, hold objects close to your body rather than flexing forward, and bend at the knees using your strong leg muscles before standing up with the object.