During the winter months, many people feel their aches and pains more intensely. Not only that, the winter months can be hard on your back in general! Shoveling snow and winter sports can both cause serious damage, while a lack of physical activity can drain your strength and put unnecessary stress on your spine. Poor spinal health can lead to ongoing pain and long-term issues, including decreased overall mobility–not to mention other negative impacts on your health. Try these strategies to improve your spinal health this winter.

Stretch Before Your Workouts

During winter, when it’s colder, it’s more important than ever to stretch before your workouts–not to mention before other strenuous physical activity. Whether you’re going to be taking the kids out sledding or you’re shoveling the sidewalk, take the time to stretch before you head outside. Make sure that you’re warmed up and ready for whatever exercise you’re going to be doing.

Start Slow

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During a good workout, including nontraditional workouts like snow shoveling, you want to slowly build up to your optimal performance. You wouldn’t just jump straight into lifting your heaviest weight in the gym, so give your body the same consideration as you head outside. Sure, it may take you a few minutes to catch up with the kids, but it will be well worth it if it helps you avoid injury in the long run.

Know When to Quit

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to go inside before you’re finished shoveling your walkway, but if your body is protesting every movement, it’s time to go inside. Set a time limit for yourself before you even get started with shoveling and other key winter-related tasks. You may be able to work for half an hour, an hour, or two hours, but when that time is up, go back inside and let yourself cool down. The rest of the driveway will wait for another day.

Stretch Your Back When You’re Done

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Stretching isn’t just for the first part of your workout! You should also take the time to stretch carefully when you’re done. Your muscles are warm, which means that you’ll often be able to stretch further, increasing your overall flexibility. Stretching will help you prevent injury and may reduce some of the soreness you’ll feel later–a definite benefit.

Stay Active

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The flip side to winter sports and activities is inactivity. There’s snow on the ground outside; school and work have been canceled; and there’s absolutely nothing tempting about getting outside in weather that’s below freezing. Frankly, you’re perfectly happy to curl up in your nice, warm house, sit on your couch, and not move. Consistent inactivity, however, is just as bad for your spinal health as the wrong types of activity! Create an exercise schedule for winter that will help you stay active. You’ll appreciate the effort when spring arrives!

Change Your Mattress and Pillow

While you’re considering your back and spinal health this season, make sure that you’re also considering your bed. A supportive, comfortable mattress and a custom pillow like the ones offered by Headleveler can go a long way to increasing your overall comfort, letting you get a better night’s sleep, and maintaining your spinal health throughout the long winter months.

If you’re struggling to maintain your spinal health this winter, you certainly aren’t alone! With these key steps, however, you can put yourself in a better position to maintain your spinal health–and that means when spring arrives, you’ll be ready to dive back into your favorite outdoor activities. Don’t let your spinal health suffer this winter! Instead, try these strategies for keeping your back and spine healthy, your muscles flexible, and your health intact.