Back Pain In Winter?

Pack some heat!

Hotpacks are your best bet if you, your clients, your family members suddenly have muscle pain for no good reason.

‘Tis the season!

I had clients with sciatica, a teenager with torticollis, countless neck/back/shoulder pains. All got rapidly better with hotpacks.

When we went on a trip to DC, I had a really uncomfortable spasm between the shoulderblades. Insane, stabbing pain. My thoracics (vertebrae in the upper back) have a tendency to get stuck in flexion, and in addition the muscles were just spasming. Uncomfortable doesn’t describe it. I was getting nauseous with the pain and stiffness. But it lasted only until I made it away from the monuments and the icy wind on The Mall, and stood under a very hot shower. After that I used the towel trick to open up the stubborn vertebrae, and I was miraculously healed.

And so were most of these clients (yeah, the ones who don’t have a chronic issue), and my wife, who is still sitting in bed right now, with the hotpack behind her. We all get similar problems if we let muscles that are already annoyed get too cold.

For my wife the story was this: in the last yoga class we did a lot of strengthening exercises, so the muscles were a bit sore. Then, yesterday, we had 45 degrees and she was going in and out the house a lot. Certainly NOT dressed for the weather. This morning she woke up, complaining about severe back pain where yesterday everything was fine.

My explanation: Soreness came first, then the cold inhibited healing of the muscle and induced spasm. Lying in bed over night can make things a lot worse, just because circulation to the muscles goes down and we’re in the same position for too long.

The fix: Sitting with a hotpack in her back, then moving around took it all away. Yay!

Don’t ice muscle spasms!

Cold makes muscles tight and sore, and can lead to sudden spasms. But do you know what people told the parents of the kid with torticollis? Put ice on.  Here he was, with the most obvious muscle spasm EVER, his head painfully tilted, his ear towards his shoulder… and the “experts” want to ICE. Brrrr.

He doesn’t have congenital torticollis (well ice would have been idiotic there… but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone suggested it).
There was no trauma, no muscle strain. But still “ice” is the first thing people come up with.

He was going through finals in school AND IT WAS COLD. We’re in Florida, so it isn’t cold often, and when we have sudden cold snaps, people aren’t prepared, and they don’t dress for it.

So please. If you, your loved one, one of your clients suddenly has muscle pain, especially in winter…. try heat first, ok?

In most cases, it melts the pain away. Add some mobilization, careful exercise (no drastic stretches), and maybe some skilled bodywork, and you’re good to go.

Stay warm!

1 thought on “Back Pain In Winter?

  1. Well now, in all honesty, and with full disclosure, I feel I must follow-up. When Lu was writing this, we were still in bed. I was sitting next to her with the hot pack on my back and I really was feeling better. I got up and started working on breakfast, still feeling fine. I went outside to drop some things in the recycle bin. I expected to be very quick about it but there was the neighbor, she said hello, and we got to chatting for a bit. It was cold outside but I still felt warm from the house and so I didn’t think about it too much.

    But, after sitting mostly still while we ate breakfast I found the pain and discomfort had not only returned to my back but it felt worse. Much worse. So much worse I couldn’t go to Yoga. I started home keeping heat on it and trying to do some gentle movements, small cat/dog yoga stretches and such.

    When Lu got back from Yoga she suggested that maybe some of my vertebrae were stuck and recommended the towel trick (the same one she mentions and links to in the blog above). I did the towel trick for what seemed like a long time on three specific spots. Lu even helped to press my shoulders down a couple of times.

    It was intense. When you’re that stuck, the towel trick can feel very deep. But it was also amazing. Within a few minutes after sitting up I was feeling much better. So much better in fact that since it had warmed up quite a bit we went for a long walk. And I even ended up collecting lots of sticks for the fire that I carried back to the house without any back discomfort at all.

    SO… my back wasn’t all the way better exactly as she originally wrote. But that was probably due to my going back out into the cold before it had a chance to fully relax. In the end, the heat and the towel trick… well, did the trick… and now I’m really feeling MUCH better.

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