Do you seem to suffer more spine-related pain during the summer months? When you experience worse pain in warm weather, several factors might be at play.
“My aches and pains predict the weather – I always feel it when a storm is coming.” You may hear people say things like that all the time – some of you may actually say things like that!
The Farmer’s Almanac, a source of folksy wisdom and weather predictions for almost 200 years, had this to say in a 2010 article:
“No one knows exactly what causes aches and pains to flare up, but the most likely culprit is the drop in atmospheric pressure that occurs right before a storm begins.”
As TV meteorologists say, areas of high pressure bring lower humidity and calm weather, and a drop in the barometer signals unsettled weather on the way. Back to the Almanac:
“This shift in air pressure may be enough to dilate the blood vessels in the body, stimulating the nerve endings in sensitive areas …”
Changing humidity is also linked to pain, although research results don’t clearly show whether higher or lower humidity is more likely to cause it.
Summer weather systems move across the terrain more slowly, so, theoretically, your Summer weather-related pain could last longer.
Long days and more outdoor activity might also play a role in flare-ups of Summer back pain. Sitting in the bleachers through a double-header, breaking out the golf clubs or water skis, wearing sandals instead of back-supporting shoes, weeding the garden or playing in the company softball game, riding a roller coaster after standing an hour in line – any of these activities could trigger increased lower back pain.
A Summertime Tune-up for Your Back
Take advantage of longer days and warmer weather to add some exercise routines that help you build muscle tone and avoid ‘back attack.’ Check with your doctor before starting any of these, and then consider:
Water aerobics – an exercise class in the pool is a way to achieve the toning and core-muscle strengthening of conventional aerobics without stressing joints or spine.
Swimming – you can swim to achieve the aerobic benefits of jogging, without risking sore knees, shin splints or skeletal pain.
Cycling – there’s less stress than running, and plenty of cardiovascular exercise, but with some risks. Be sure your bicycle fits your size and skills, be aware of the stresses of seating and leaning on the handlebars, and most important, always wear a properly sized safety helmet.
Remember to hydrate with water breaks at least every hour, and don’t skip sunscreen of the right SPF level, or UV-blocking eyewear.
With a little planning, and gradually increasing exercise, you might find that Summertime activity helps reduce spine-related pain.