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man stretching his back doing exercise at beach

Why Exercise is Vital for a Healthy Back

Staying active and taking part in regular exercise is crucial for a healthy spine, and the symptoms of chronic back pain can usually be mitigated with physical activity. It’s understandable that some sports and activities involve risk, and it is possible to suffer a sprained muscle or hurt the back with too much physical exercise – but a back injury is not the same as ongoing back pain. You can recover from a pulled muscle in the back caused by playing sports, yet chronic back pain is difficult to treat.

Exercise Improves Back Health

This is why even if you suffer from back pain, you should still take part in physical exercise. Keeping the back mobile is vital for spine health, and will stop the back muscles losing their strength. People often self-medicate a bad back with bed rest but this is in fact the opposite of what health professionals now recommend. Sitting down too much and inactivity can cause lower back pain or make it worse.

If you have a tense, stiff or sore back, you should complete an exercise regime which aims to mobilise and strengthen the spine and the muscles. Every case of back pain is different and you should speak to a doctor and physiotherapist about the best exercises and stretches to do to help ease the pain. However, in general, these physical activities are recommended to prevent and treat back pain.

Swimming and other water activities

Swimming is a low impact exercise, which means it’s easy on the joints. Doing some lengths in a swimming pool a couple of times a week can keep the back mobile. However, if you prefer to swim with your head out of the water this can sometimes cause neck or back issues. In this case, try water aerobics or another water based activity.

Walking

Going for a brisk walk, even if it’s just round the block can help to keep your back mobile. From walking the dog to walking to the bus stop, short but regular walks can boost energy and keep you active.

Cycling

Tell back pain to “Get on yer bike!” Cycling is a gentle activity which can be enjoyed by all ages. Always wear a helmet and stay safe on the roads – you may wish to stick to woodland cycle paths. Going for a leisurely bike ride can do wonders for your back.

Yoga

Many chronic back pain sufferers recommend yoga for easing pain. The series of stretching, poses and breathing exercises helps to improve mobility and flexibility, and is reported to be more effective than painkillers and back exercises according to The Daily Mail.

Staying active is key to easing the symptoms and improving your condition.

child using an exercise ball

Does Back Pain get Worse in Winter?

Many people who suffer from chronic pain in the spine will report the symptoms getting worse as the weather gets colder. Similarly, people who don’t have regular back pain may also experience some aches and pains in their neck, upper back or lower back during the winter months. Sciatica sufferers also seem to experience symptoms at this time of year. Why is it that pain seems to increase as the temperature drops?

There is no proven link between sudden lower back pain and changes in the weather, including cold temperatures, humid conditions, wind and rain. However many studies have been carried out across the world to try and find a medical reason as to why more people suffer musculoskeletal pain during cold weather.

With the UK facing a back pain epidemic and bracing for a cold winter, we need to understand why symptoms can suddenly appear or become worse.

Why back or neck pain gets worse in winter

Tight and tense muscles

When we are exposed to really cold temperatures, our muscles tense up. The spine’s muscles may become tight and tense for a long period of time, which can result in back pain further down the line. Tension in the back can also increase the risk of a muscle sprain, which will also cause short term pain.

Extra stress

It’s also possible that the challenges winter brings could put extra stress on the back muscles, and increase the injury risk. Shovelling snow, pushing trapped vehicles, falling on ice or slush and carrying around Christmas trees can leave you pulling, twisting or damaging your back. Sometimes, the mental stress of the holiday season can also cause tension in the body.

Inactivity

You’ve probably heard doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors say that the best way to relieve back pain is by staying active. When we sit still for long periods of time, muscles stiffen up so it’s really important to keep moving and stretch back muscles often. However, during the winter’s cold, dark days, exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. It can be tough braving the cold weather and the short gloomy days make you want to stay in bed for longer. This decline in physical activity in winter can trigger back pain.

Many people do experience back pain symptoms at this time of year, but there are ways to prevent it. Wrapping up warm every time you go outside and staying as active as possible is a good formula. If you’re suffering with lower back pain or neck pain, visit a chiropractor for some manual therapy and expert advice.