Can it be the cold weather that’s causing your back pain? Grandma predicting a storm due to aching joints and back pain … is it real, or simply an old wives’ tale?

Is there a true connection between back pain and cold weather? Science is yet to identify the reason why back pain is aggravated during the cold winter months. However, a large research study published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health states that people working in lower temperatures reported higher incidences of back pain compared to those working in warmer temperatures. There’s no debate around the fact that it is real, you are not alone.  

So, in short, one thing that we do know is that cold weather cause the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the spine to tighten. When it’s cold there is less blood flow to these parts and they become naturally stiff, placing extra strain on your back. Also, shivering is another typical response to a decrease in temperature. It helps the body to produce heat naturally, but can also leave muscles feeling stiff and achy – even if it is subtle or undetected.

Back pain can be crippling and debilitating. It decreases mobility and makes every day activities hard to perform. It affects your mood, concentration levels, appetite, and can even prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.

Fortunately adopting  preventative measures can minimize your risk of experiencing back pain during winter:

  • Keep warm. The best thing you can do to avoid back pain when it’s cold is to make every effort to keep yourself warm at all times, especially when you’re outdoors. Wear clothing in layers; a few thin layers will keep you warmer than a single thick layer. Keep it toasty in your home. Also, apply direct heat in the form of a hot water bottle or a heating pad and consider using an electric blanket to keep your muscles from tightening during the coldest hours of the night.
  • Heat up your car ahead of time. Letting the heater run for a few minutes before you leave means your back never has the chance to get cold.
  • Stay active. 40% of people become less active after back pain strikes, a strategy that will only make the condition worse. Being overweight puts unnecessary strain on your back. Exercise will strengthen the core muscles in your back and abdomen and will protect the bones and ligaments in your back. Try indoor exercises such as yoga or aerobics, swimming in a heated pool, or perhaps working out on a stationary bike.
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Some foods cause inflammation while others fight it. Include fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, lean proteins, nuts and healthy fats in your diet. Avoid fried foods, foods with trans-fats, processed foods, and sugary treats and drinks.
  • Guzzle H2O. Dehydration can lead to disc narrowing and back ache.
  • Avoid SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of seasonal depression caused by chilly temperatures and not enough sunlight, and is often liked to aggravated back pain.

Remember, daily back or neck pain is not normal. If this is something you’re experiencing, it may be time to get in touch with a  medical practitioner.

Keep warm – it’s cold out there!


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.