3 Reasons Why The Cold Weather Can Affect Your Spondylolisthesis

spondylolisthesis and cold weather

As we approach the middle of winter for many states the number of emails and questions begin to increase in regards to spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis care.

I try to always pay attention to trends and one trend that I notice year after year is the increased amount of spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis cases in the winter or colder months.

This may just be some odd coincidence, but I believe there are a few possible factors for this increase in the cold months. Pay attention to the following reasons and see if you have fallen victim to any of them. If you have or if you do feel an increase of pain with the cold weather, try to make a few adjustments to combat the following possibilites.

1. Cold weather leads to lazziness.

For me personally, when I sit around more often than not I get extremely tight in the hips and low back area.  I lose stability and strength in areas that are crucial for maintaining good health and providing relief for my low back.

When the temperature drops, those outdoor activities disappear and unfortunately they are replaced by lots of sitting.  Long walks are replaced by computer activities.  Golf and other outdoor sports are replaced by sitting and watching them on TV.  Playing outside with the kid is replaced by sitting inside and watching them play.

The odds of a sedentary lifestyle fueled by sitting increases as the weather gets colder.

Solution:

I try to stay active as much as possible. Trips to indoor playgrounds, the library, or bookstore with my kid replace outdoor activities. Instead of my
favorite summer outdoor activity of golf, I try to visit heated driving ranges to stay flexible and active.

One of the main things I do is to stay disciplined with my workouts and add an extra day of foam rolling and stretching here and there. I stay as consciousas I can of how much I sit and try hard to not sit for long periods of time.

When I work on the computer, I try to get up every 20 minutes or so even if it only involves a quick hip stretch or movement.

No matter how cold it gets outside, I try to stay as active as I can by replacing outdoor activities with indoor activities that involve movement. This has really helped me to avoid cold weather setbacks with my back.

2. Cold weather can lead to poor eating habits.

Just like in the first example, when you sit around more and become lazy you usually begin to eat poorly.  Often times shear boredom leads to bad eating habits. That bag of chips or chocolate cake that you usually would ignore in the summer begins to work its way back into your diet.

The cold weather months typically cause people to put on a few more pounds.  The holidays do not help either.  Large amounts of sitting around and eating during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are often to blame for excess pounds.

This leads to a snowball effect of being lazy.  You sit around more which creates the sense of boredom.  Many people replace being bored with the feeling of hunger.  You then overeat causing the body to feel lethargic and lazy and the cycle continues.

Before you know it you plow through a box of cookies and a bowl of ice cream while you sit and watch six hours of re-runs of your favorite TV show.

cookie biteThe sitting and excess weight reduces your ability to move properly which could create instability, weakness and eventually painful spondylolisthesis episodes.

These habits take the place of the activities you are used to in the warmer months wher you spend more time being active and not thinking about food.

Solution:

I tend to fight this cycle by paying close attention to what I eat and drinking extra water.  I find that providing my body with plenty of water helps to fight those boring food craves.  This in combination with staying active helps to keep away the cold weather pounds.

3.Cold weather makes working out and exercising much harder.

I find that when the weather drops workouts tend to become much harder.

Those quick trips to the gym get harder when you have to scrape ice off of your car for fifteen minutes. It’s a pain to put on 2 layers of clothing just to stay warm on your way to the gym.

Your home workouts get harder due to the fact you spend the first ten minutes shivering if your work out is in the morning or late evenings.

My workouts are crucial to staying pain free. Without them my body gets weak, tight and doesn’t move the way it should. Pain is quick to follow.

Mentally I do not let myself get down or lazy. If the temperature is freezing outside and going to the gym seems like a trip across the Klondike, I replace that trip to the gym with an extended foam rolling and stretching session at home.

More often than not if I feel like skipping a workout and I just tell myself to replace the workout with a good warm-up and stretch, I get through the stretch and I am suddenly motivated to workout. That workout that I wanted to skip then turns into a great stretch and workout.

The cold is a simple excuse that your mind creates to not work out. More often than not, one skipped workout leads to another, and another, and another…….

Before you know it you are in bed grabbing your low back with pain so bad you
can’t get up (believe me, I have been there).

Solution:

To remain consistent and motivated I remind myself of how painful some of my episodes were. Without my workouts I would be back in bed fighting pain and
contemplating surgery for an attempted quick fix.

This helps me stay consistent and motivated no matter how cold it is outside!

I also converted our spare bedroom into a small workout room. A small investment that has dramatically helped my spondylolisthesis back pain.

As you can see the winter months provide you with many challenges in your battle to remain healthy.  The obstacles make it very easy to sit around and do nothing.  This creates the perfect storm for your body to lose flexibility, mobility, stability and strength.

Don’t fall victim to the cold and allow it make your spondy pain worse.  Stay active, eat well and remain consistent with your workouts to stay feeling great!

What do you do to beat the cold?  Comment below to share your thoughts.

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