Take Care Of Your Back This Winter

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Wintertime can wreak havoc on your poor back—whether you’re shoveling snow, slipping on the icy sidewalk, or signing up for activities like sledding or skiing. In fact, back injuries are more common in the winter than any other time of year, according to Mark Sobor, MD, an integrative pain management physician in Chicago. I believe him; I tweaked my back (technically, my sacroiliac joint) two winters ago on the slopes in the Rocky Mountains, and it’s taken until now for it to heal. I wish I’d had Sobor’s tips for alleviating back pain way back then (he’s posted tips on ChicagoHealers.com). Here’s what he suggests:

In the 2-3 days following a back injury you should:

  • Relax the muscle spasm causing the pain
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication or supplement
  • Lie flat on your back on a hard surface with a pillow under your knees, or try the fetal position

When you’re feeling better, perform these exercises to ease back pain:

  • Lie flat on your back on a hard surface
  • Pull knee to chest, one leg at a time, hold for several seconds
  • Repeat 5-10 times for each leg

Strengthen and stretch all muscles and joints to help with pain. Also, try these easy-on-your-back exercises:

  • Walking
  • Pilates (for core)
  • Swimming
  • Low impact aerobics

Call your doctor if:

  • Pain is shooting down one or both legs, and the leg(s) feel weak
  • You cannot control normal bathroom functions
  • The pain is intractable and can’t be controlled with medication