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Looking After your Back in Winter

Looking After your Back in Winter

Now that the temperature is declining with the southern hemisphere tilting away from the sun heading into winter, our backs tend to get a bit stiffer, especially on cold mornings. After 8 hours sleep, water imbibes (or soaks back in) to our discs in between our vertebra (back bones) and this not only makes us taller than when we went to sleep, but it also makes our back stiffer and more at risk of being strained. 

Astronauts when they return to Earth commonly suffer disc prolapses immediately upon landing as the discs are at full height as no gravity has been acting on the back to squeeze fluid out of the discs when in space, but then on landing gravity is fully applied again to the body and discs of their backs which leads to disc injuries. 

Extrapolating this phenomena to why many of my patients have suffered neck and back strains early in the morning on waking (washing and brushing hair, putting shoes on etc), or in the car driving to work, is that potentially the discs are strained as they are a) full from imbibing fluid overnight and b) have full gravity applied to the spine compared to minimal forces when sleeping in lying over night.

So my tip is have a shower in the morning to warm up and try not to do any strenuous activities and stretches first thing as your joints and discs are more at risk.