As we move into the winter season it can be common for people to suffer more with aches and pains. Back pain, in particular, is a complaint that a lot of people come to see me in the clinic looking for help with, when the weather gets colder and the evenings get darker.
There can be a few reasons for this such as a reduced amount of daylight available which can make exercise harder to fit into your day. While it is still possible to get out and exercise at night, you don’t quite get that same feel good factor that you get during the day from the sun shining on your face.
If it’s cold and lashing rain in the evening it can also be a bit off putting and of course the damp weather in Ireland can affect people who suffer with arthritis.
Also, due to the current level 5 Covid restrictions, gyms, pools and attending classes in person are not allowed which takes that option of exercise away from people. All of this basically can mean that you may not be as active during the Winter months, which can lead to more back ache, pains and stiffness.
But is there a way to counteract this and keep yourself feeling free and mobile.
I believe there is and I have come up three tips to help you.
1 – Break up your exercise into smaller chunks.
You may be under the impression that you need to exercise for 40 minutes at a time for it to have any positive effect. While this might be true if you are training for a running race or a particular sport, for most people, you don’t need to put aside this amount of time. The danger in thinking this way is that you can put off doing any exercise because you think you need to set aside at least 30 minutes in the day, but to keep a general level of health and mobility you don’t need to.
To get around this you can easily break up your daily exercise into smaller chunks. Do 5 – 10 minutes of stretching in the morning, a 10 minute walk at lunch and if you have time, another bit of movement in the evening. There you go. Job done and any more physical exercise you get on top of this is a bonus.
At least twice a week try to make two of these 5- 10 minute slots a more vigorous form of exercise such as a brisk walk, a jog or even a HIIT workout such as the ones in that I have in my Free Facebook group for my November health Boost. You can access this for free by clicking here.
2 – Plan Your Days
A little bit of thought may need to go into your day if you have suffered with back pain before in the winter time. Getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning can mean you will not be under as much pressure to get going and get out the door in the morning. This can allow for some exercises to loosen up your back such as the ones here.
Plan ahead by having your exercise clothes laid out and ready to go, have your space ready the night before and set the heat to come on in the morning which will allow the house to warm up and make it easier to get out of bed.
3- Don’t let small aches turn into big pains
I have been here myself. Putting up with a slight ache or pain for a few weeks, avoiding movements that are uncomfortable to do until one day you actually have to do a lot of these uncomfortable movements and end up in a lot of pain.
You only need to see a physio when you are in a lot of pain, have injured yourself or are told to by your GP. However, by this stage, you will usually have gone through a few weeks of pain, will have not felt yourself at home or at work and may have tried solving it by taking a variety of painkillers.
This will all have resulted in wasting time and missing out on doing the things you enjoy doing.
At Midlands Physio & Back Pain Clinic I like to get ahead of this and where possible, and prevent this from happening in the first place.
The trick is not to ignore small pains, niggles or stiffness that persist longer than 10 days. They are there as a sign that something is not quite right with your body and some form of action needs to be taken. Think of it as the warning lights in your car. You can keep driving around with them on but sooner or later, something is going to give up and go wrong with your car.( I unfortunately know this from experience too which resulted in having to get an engine replaced).
An opportunity to live with less pain and move freely by Christmas.