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Does Cold Weather Cause Back Pain?

Does Cold Weather Cause Back Pain?

Through excruciatingly cold weather many notice an increase in back and joint pain. Some have wondered “does cold weather cause back pain?”

Yes, cold weather can cause back pain. Low temperatures can cause the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to tighten causing pain in your back or joints. When someone gets cold they may feel their whole body stiffen, this is the body’s defense, a way of self-preservation to ensure proper blood flow to the bodies most vital organs. By directing blood flow to the most central areas of the body, it leaves other areas without the normal blood flow causing them to stiffen.

Before a work out on days with average temperatures you are still instructed to “warm up”. Stretching, and light movement before an exercise is always suggested - so let’s look at that idea and apply it to movement in cold weather. How much more does a “warm up” effort need to be made? Most back pain from cold weather is caused by a strain to those muscles, tendons and ligaments. The back is more susceptible to injury when these structures are cold.

Shivering can also trigger back pain. Shivering is the body’s response to the cold and it is the body’s way to produce heat by performing contractions of the muscles. Although it’s part of the defense against the cold, those contractions can cause cramps or tightness in the muscles leaving one back more prone to pain.

Proper Exercise

Exercise is very important to ward off back pain caused by cold weather. Walking, biking, and other forms of exercise that is often performed outdoors is sometimes shoved to the back burner during times of inclement weather. Putting your exercise routine on sabbatical is one of the worse things you can do for aches and pains. By not exercising you are leaving yourself wide open to risks of strains or injury.

Key Ingredients for Avoiding Back Pain in Cold Weather

  • Warmth in layers – Dress appropriately using many layers to ensure warmth. Fight the urge to always stay indoors. Getting outside can help fight depression. With the proper clothing/boots you can change your outlook on winter.
  • Water – In the hot summer months it is much easier to realize ones need for water. Winter can also be a time of dehydration risk.
  • Stretching – As stated, stretching is important to “warm up” those muscles.
  • Exercise consistently – Don’t push off exercise until the weather gets better. Exercise as best you can – go the gym, walk at a mall or somewhere else that is warmer, dress warm and get outside. Do something that will get those muscles into action.

When an injury does arrive - jump on it! Get treatment right away. Don’t let this pain snowball into something it didn’t have to be.

Allied Physical Therapy can help you with your pain. With physical therapy clinics in Framingham, Norwood, and Foxboro, MA, we are here to help you when you have back pain. 

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