Call it a change in pressure or the natural aging process, but the winter weather has a way of stiffening our backs and making it ache. Maybe it’s all that snow you shoveled after not shoveling much of anything for nine or ten months. Or what about when you fell down the driveway while you were shoveling? Either way, these usual slips and strains only become more agitated as the cool dry air works its way into our homes and offices.

Warding off the winter aches starts with a hot shower in the morning and some light stretches for your hips, thighs, and hamstrings. Targeting the major muscles of your legs will in turn stretch your back.

We want to loosen the back muscles because of their supporting role in so many of our movements. Slight knee or hip injuries can cause your back to compensate, causing exactly the type of strain that rears it ugly head in the winter months.

If this is the kind of strain you’re dealing with, then it’s important to do stretches and exercises that strengthen your core and increase your range of motion. Gentle twists can ease out your back and abs, while certain Yoga bends can help stretch and strengthen the problem areas.

If you’re doing winter chores or going outside on an icy day, it goes without saying to be careful on the sidewalk, but also keep in mind that you haven’t been doing certain winter activities for months. All it takes is one nor’easter to put enough snow on the ground to keep you shoveling all morning and then bending over with a sore back all night.

Healthy body mechanics go a long way in preventing injury, so if you find yourself in a snowball fight, you’ll get the most power by throwing from your legs and not your back. Also, never throw a snowball with straight knees. Not only do you get more propulsion with bent knees, you won’t throw your back out in the process.

This is also great advice for anyone shoveling snow, but you knew that already, didn’t you?!

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