It is important to be intentional about winter wellness for the spine. Wintertime can be tough on the body and the spine is especially at risk when it comes to potential hazards. With cold temperatures, ice, snow, and the tendency to remain sedentary, protecting your spine in challenging weather can be just that, challenging.
There are several actions you can take to protect the spine during winter, which is when many people experience back and neck injuries due to slips on the ice or other, weather-related accidents. Check out some the tips we have to avoid becoming a statistic this season!
- Proper Cold Weather Attire to Protect the Spine. They keyword for all things winter attire is “layer”! Be sure to wear plenty of removable layers to adjust for indoor and outdoor movement and sunshine — or lack thereof. Keeping your body at the right temperature will keep you from hustling in our out of places, which puts you at risk for a fall. Winter wellness for the spine starts here.
- Weather-Appropriate Footwear to Avoid Falls. It can be a hassle to change shoes often, but ensuring you wear shoes with traction and grip on ice or snow can help you avoid a fall. Back injuries are the most common result of a fall on the ice, so wearing the right shoes can help you avoid a lot of pain.
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- Proper Lifting Technique for Snow Shoveling. Shoveling the driveway after a big snowfall isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, but it has to be done. Protect your spine by using a lightweight shovel with a curved handle to avoid having to bend over too much. Bend at the hips, not the low back, and keep snow loads lighter.
- Scan Thoroughly and Slow Down. Taking a moment to scan the driveway or sidewalk before walking on it can save your spine. Even if something doesn’t look slippery, walk slowly and hold onto something nearby if you can. Black ice, for example, can look invisible
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- Stay Active. Cold weather can push you into a sedentary lifestyle, but staying active is an important part of protecting the spine. Even just making a goal to stretch and walk indoors on a regular basis is helpful. Plus, staying active wards off depression, which can be a side effect of chronic pain.
- Gift Wrap Safely. Many people grab a seat on the floor and start cutting, wrapping and taping their gifts together. Unfortunately, more than a few moments of this can start to cause back pain. For a gift wrapping experience that protects the spine, sit in a chair with your gifts on a table at eye level so you aren’t straining or slouching as you wrap.
- Be Cautious When Trying New Activities. Winter is a time for ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, and more. Because we don’t do most of those activities in warmer months, we are more prone to injury. Be sure to take on new activities at the right speed and level to avoid putting your body in danger for a cheap thrill.
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These are just a few of the things to keep in mind as you consider winter wellness for the spine. As we head deep into the winter months, stay aware. Intentionality and caution can go a long way in protecting the spine from winter hazards, so keep this list handy.