Exercises to Avoid a Stiff Neck and Back During Cold Weather
Do you feel like the colder it gets outside the achier your back and neck feel? You’re not imagining this correlation. Researchers from the Arthritis Research Institute of America, South Carolina School of Medicine and Tufts University have all concluded that colder temperatures spark physiological changes in joints and joint fluids that worsen pain.
For every 10-degree temperature drop, aches and pains worsen. That’s interesting. But you’re probably more interested in how you can alleviate pain during the cold months. The following exercises are safe and effective ways to strengthen your joints and alleviate pain. Best of all? You can do them at your desk or in your car.
Stand Up, Sit Down
If the word “exercise” strikes fear into your core, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that exercises to reduce neck pain and back pain need not be rigorous. Simply standing up and sitting down, repeatedly, will alleviate pain and stiffness. The key is to not use your hands to push off. Perform this ritual for a couple of minutes every hour you’re working at your desk.
Have a Ball
Another exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise is sitting on an exercise ball rather than a desk chair. This accessory turns the simple act of sitting into a zero-impact full-body workout. You’ll engage your core muscles to stay balanced, and these muscles strengthen your back and alleviate pain.
This is another exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise! You can do this in your car, at your desk or even while waiting in line at the grocery store. Stand or sit upright and swivel your head slowly as far to the left as you can comfortably go. Hold that position for 10 seconds, then repeat on the right side.
If you feel your neck stiffening up, press your right hand firmly against your head above your ear and engage your neck muscles to resist the pressure. Repeat on the left side.
While seated on a stool or armless chair, cross your right leg over your left leg above the knee. With your left elbow braced against your outer right knee, simultaneously twist and stretch your body. Repeat this exercise three times per side, twice a day.
While regular pushups may be too rigorous for individuals suffering from back and neck pain, modified pushups help to strengthen the core, which alleviates back pain. At work, you can perform desk pushups. Place your hands on the edge of your desk shoulder width apart, place your legs behind you and slowly push off from the desk. You can modify the intensity of this exercise by varying how far your legs extend behind you. (The farther out your legs extend, the more challenging this exercise will be.)
Take a Walk
Any movement is better than no movement when you suffer from back pain and neck pain. Instead of succumbing to the pain, force yourself to get up and go for short walks throughout the day. It may be tough to get up and get going initially, but as you walk and blood flow increases, your joints will loosen up and you’ll feel better. Movement lubricates your joints and provides relief.
When the weather outside is frightful and you’re grappling with joint pain, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing. It will do a world of good, though. Inactivity will aggravate your pain. Get up, get moving and get relief. And take heart, because every bone-chilling achy day brings you a day closer to the warmth of spring.