What Causes Cold Weather Back Pain and How to Find Relief

cold weather back pain

With winter around the corner, our lives start to adapt to cooler weather and the limitations that come along with that. Colder temperatures mean heavier clothes, less time spent outdoors, and a plethora of other lifestyle changes that occur each year during this seasonal change. One of the unfortunate side effects of winter setting in is the increase in cold weather back pain.

Back pain from cold weather is both a byproduct of the temperatures themselves, as well as how our lifestyles are impacted by the changing seasons. Today, we’re looking at what causes cold weather back pain and how to find relief.

Causes of Cold Weather Back Pain

Knowing how cold weather affects the body is the first step to finding relief as the seasons start to change. From cold weather back pain to winter arthritis flare ups and many more conditions in between, there’s no denying how the climate affects our bodies. Sometimes this is a direct effect of the cold weather and how our bodies react whereas other times it may be directly correlated to how our lifestyle has to adapt to cooler temps during winter months.

As we focus on back pain from cold weather, let’s look at common causes such as:

  • Muscle contractions in cold weather
  • Low barometric pressure
  • Less exercise in winter months
  • Winter blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Poor posture and body positioning from the cold

Cold Weather Muscle Contractions

If learning how to relieve back pain from cold weather relies on identifying the source of discomfort, then it makes sense to start with how the cold affects our bodies. Cold weather muscle contractions are involuntary responses to low temperatures. As the temperatures fall, our muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout our body (especially in our spines) tighten and experience drops in blood flow. Reduced blood circulation means oxygen and nutrients are delivered less efficiently, which can lead to longer recovery times, joint inflammation, and cold weather back pain.

Beyond muscle contractions, mixing labor-intensive winter chores with the colder temperatures may also be a recipe for back pain. Activities like shoveling snow can be hard on the back and be a major contributor to back pain from cold weather. If you’re going to be outside for activities like this, be sure to stretch and loosen up thoroughly to avoid injuries.

Low Barometric Pressure

Have you or someone you know ever said they could feel the change in weather based on joint or back pain? It’s not necessarily a trick of the mind! While there is no concrete evidence of a correlation between barometric pressure and back pain, many experts agree that there’s likely a connection.

The science behind this is that a drop in barometric pressure may result in joint inflammation leading to back pain from cold weather. The inflammation and swelling adds excess pressure around the body, producing pain symptoms.

Less Exercise in Winter Months

Even though maybe it’s not a direct cause and effect relationship between temperatures and cold weather back pain, the winter months often reduce or limit the amount of physical activity and exercise we get. This lack of exercise can lead to back pain, muscle stiffness, and an array of other physical ailments until we get back to the warmer temperatures of spring and emerge from our homes once more!

Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Not all cold weather back pain stems from physical catalysts. Many people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly referred to as the “winter blues,” during colder months and it can have a profound physical impact on the body. Statistics show that 10 to 20 percent of adults experience symptoms of SAD each year.

Symptoms of the winter blues often include fatigue, a lack of energy, and increased stress or anxiety levels that involuntarily tense up our muscles. This can lead to excess pressure on the spine and joints along the body, effectively resulting in back pain from cold weather.

Note: If you experience deepening symptoms of depression, always consult a medical professional. 

Poor Posture and Body Positioning in Cold Weather

Last up as we explore what causes cold weather back pain is poor posture and body positioning. You may be unaware of it, but during the winter months, many of us have the tendency to curl up in our favorite couch or chair to keep warm. The downside of this attempt to keep cozy and warm is that it puts excess strain on our spines as we position ourselves out of alignment. The negative impact of poor posture and body positioning is an example of how cold weather back pain can sneak in when you least expect it!

How to Relieve Back Pain From Cold Weather

If those are the common causes of cold weather back pain, how can we prevent them? Learning how to relieve back pain from cold weather can be as simple as being mindful of our actions, body positioning, and general well-being as the months turn colder.

For example, using popular recovery tools like zero gravity chairs for back pain relief could be an effective method. The zero gravity position alleviates excess stress on the lower back and pelvic areas, letting your spine heal more quickly and realign. As an added bonus, luxury zero gravity features like heat therapy add an element to keep warm while further alleviating cold weather back pain! The combination of design and bonus features make these modern recliners the perfect fit for any lifestyle.

Beyond learning how to avoid pain from bad sitting habits and keeping your spine in alignment, other winter adjustments you can make to avoid cold weather back pain include finding ways to exercise more, managing symptoms of SAD (with light exposure or other techniques), or keeping warm with self-care activities like a warm shower. Consider trying out each of these techniques to see what works best for you.

As you can see, there are a variety of factors that contribute to cold weather back pain. As the weather gets chilly, it’s up to us to get creative with ways to stay active as well as tools we can use for rest, recovery, and relief. Whether it’s a new indoor workout routine or experiencing the many benefits of zero gravity chairs, make a point this year to put your health and wellness first!

Zero gravity chairs are perfect all year long for people of all ages. Want to learn more? Check out the Svago Swivel Zero Gravity Recliner and see where luxury, innovation, and utility come together.