It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! Don’t let back and/ or joint pain hold you back from enjoying the festive fun! Winter and the colder weather can make general life a bit more difficult for a number of reasons. We want to avoid adding back and joint pain to the list if at all possible. Cold weather can increase tension in joints, restrict your mobility and your chances of getting ill. 

That’s why it’s so important, perhaps even more important than other seasons, that we look after ourselves and take care of our health during the winter. Luckily for you, I’ve put together my best tips for winter wellness and managing back and joint pain during the colder months in this blog.

Posture, clothing and lifestyle advice for winter wellness

Over the years I have helped countless clients to manage their back and joint pain. In my experience pain in the thoracic region is one of the most common complaints during the winter season. The cold can be hard on our bodies! It is important to note that the temperature during winter is not the direct cause of pain during the thoracic region.

managing back and joint pain

Harsh cold weather makes us tense and we are therefore much more prone to bad posture. Think about the last time you left your house and had to go out into the cold for some reason. Going from a warm house into the freezing outdoors gives us a shock. We respond physically to this shock. In an effort to keep heat in we put our hands in our pockets. This causes us to hunch our shoulders up and tuck our chins down into our scarves and coats. This kind of posture is almost automatic when we get cold. But if you want to minimise back and joint pain this winter you need to be able to recognise this reaction to the cold. You can then correct your posture.

Avoiding tension in the body…

It might sound obvious but one easy way to avoid body tension during the winter is to stay warm! Dressing appropriately for the winter weather will make it easier to maintain good posture. This will minimise pain so layer up, especially around your core! If you’ve noticed any tension starting to develop in your back and shoulders recently, try to really think about your posture next time you’re out in the cold. Try to wear warm gloves so you avoid having your hands in your pockets for too long. If you find you need gloves and pockets to keep your hands warm, just try not to default into the hunched shoulder position. Relax your shoulders and keep them down and back while you walk, this will help to maintain good posture. Also avoid tucking your chin down into your coat. Angling your neck down like this is bound to cause tension and pain in the upper back and shoulders. So try wearing a chunky scarf to keep the heat in instead of tucking that chin into your coat.

managing back and joint pain

Protecting yourself from illness and SAD during the Winter

As well as poor posture, general rates of infection tend to go up in winter as the cold weather lowers our natural immunity to viruses. Coming down with an illness in winter does not necessarily guarantee back pain. However, if you come down with pneumonia or a chest infection then you may experience thoracic pain as a symptom. One of the best things you can do to prevent infection and any resulting back pain is to exercise as regularly as you can. It’s also a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement and  make some home-made soups.

I know it’s so much harder when it’s cold out! Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet is your best bet for keeping your immune system strong when it’s cold.

Many of us are also affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a kind of depression that is triggered by the colder seasons when we get much less sunlight. It’s more difficult to spend time outside and with loved ones. I’m mentioning this because depression can have the effect of making pain feel worse, more irritating or more intense. So if you already have back pain, do everything you can to look after yourself and prevent the onset of SAD. Exercise as often as you can, practise self care often, invest in a SAD lamp, socialise with the people you love and do the things that make you happy. I know it’s easier just to hunker down in front of the tele with a cuppa, but if you do this too often you are increasing your chances of experiencing SAD due to being sedentary most of the time.

Your personal Winter wellness helper

I hope that you have gained some useful insight into managing back and joint pain during the colder months, but if you feel like you still need some more advice please do reach out for a chat. An experienced chiropractor can help you to minimise pain and maximise your ability to enjoy the winter. Don’t let pain get in the way of your festive fun this year!

Let’s chat.

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