During the fall months, we observe the changing colors, pumpkin spice in almost everything and we get to bring out our fall wardrobe and start layering and wearing jackets to keep the chill in the air at bay. Though for those of us who suffer from chronic pain conditions more often than not, the colder weather can cause a flare up in our conditions. Sciatica is one condition well-known to give patients trouble as the colder weather sets in, but why is this? As we have been taught in chemistry class, particles get closer together or contract during cold temperatures and spread apart and expand as they warm up. The same goes for our bodies, our muscles become more tense and tighter because of the lack of blood flow to the areas as the temperature drops. The cold weather makes our muscles stiffen up, we are also more likely to suffer an injury if we don’t take the proper precautions before doing strenuous tasks like shoveling snow or even moving salt bags to pour on our driveways. These movements, if we are not properly prepared and warmed up, can worsen conditions.
Here are some tips to keep ourselves loose and protected from further injuries.
Keep Yourself Warm
- Always dress in layers, a few thinner layers will protect your more than just one thick layer of clothing. As we layer we create pockets of body heat between each layer. making it much slower for us to lose our natural body heat.
- Keep your lower back warm by tucking in a layer into your pants, so there are fewer chances of drafts giving us the chills!
- At bedtime use a few layered blankets or an electric blanket on your bed to keep you loose and able to get good restorative sleep.
- Keep your home warm by checking for door/window air leaks, if you try to save on heating remember to keep yourself warm with layers and always wear socks.
Get Good Shoes or Boots
- Your footwear should have good tread to prevent you from falling or slipping, also if your encountering a lot of ice on sidewalks a pair of over the shoe cleats can help you keep your footing!
Prepare before shoveling!
- Always take 2-3 minutes before going outside to do some light stretches for the low back, legs, and shoulders. This will loosen up the body and make your movements that much more effective and injury free.
Don’t overdo it
- When shoveling take it easy an try not overload the shovel.
- ALWAYS lift with your LEGS and NOT your back, and remember never to twist when lifting.
Swallow your pride
- If you are having any injury flare up, don’t hesitate to ask a family member or neighbor for assistance.
- Naturally during the colder months, we want to bundle up and cuddle with our significant other or pet. We need to fight the urge to be lazy and keep up your exercise program during the winter months. If you’re a jogger to try taking jogging indoors at a YMCA or gym. If you’re a biking enthusiast, you can use a trainer indoors to keep yourself on track.
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