The Top 3 Reasons Why Your Back Aches in Winter
WINTER IS HERE
Winter is upon us.
As a physiotherapist it is the time of year when many of our clients come in reporting that their lower back has become a source of pain. For some it will be pain they feel will be for the first time, for others it will be a cyclical pattern that they experience every year when the days get shorter and the temperature drops. Certainly with upwards of 80% of people reporting lower back pain in any given year one would expect that winter would be a season where many people were going to suffer an ‘achy and sore’ lower back.
Many people attribute the increase in aching to being the result of the cooler weather. While cooler weather will make things feel stiffer there is no substantive link between lower back aches and the onset of cooler winter weather and temperatures.
WHY BACKS CAN GET SORE IN WINTER
From 9 years of practice and after having delivered in excess of 25,000 physiotherapy consultations (with many being for lower back pain) I believe the 3 key reasons why lower backs actually get sore in the cooler months of winter is because:
- Many people exercise less. This is often due to the shorter days and the reduced opportunity to take that otherwise routine morning or afternoon walk. Not being able to walk means that the lower back does not get to ‘extend’ (straighten) itself and reverse the rounded position it has likely been in all day.
- Many people spend more time sitting inside out of the cold. Prolonged or sitting for more than the body is used to will increase loads onto the lower back. This happens primarily because sitting tightens the hip flexors and gluteal muscles which as a result puts more pressure on the lower back.
- Weight is often gained. Winter is the time when activity levels drop off yet our calorie intake often does not drop off proportionately. Many people will put and extra 3-5kgs onto their frame weight across winter. This results in more pressure on the lower back, and therefore more aching of the over loaded lower back structures.
So in summary this winter move more, sit less, and watch what you eat in order to keep your back from becoming achy.
ps you may also find my video post ‘The Causes of Lower Back Pain’ of interest HERE.
PAIN-FREE. PERFORM. PROLONG
Brad Beer (APAM)
Physiotherapist, Author, Founder POGO Physio