As summer sets in and days lengthen, many people rejoice in the warmer temperatures and fun activities this time of year offers.
But if you have back pain, the story may be a little more complicated. For some people with back pain, the warm weather means relief, while others struggle with the effects of the heat.
The weather itself is a factor for back pain in the summer. Although scientific studies have not really shown a concrete connection between weather and back or joint pain, many people report that heat, humidity, or even barometric pressure makes a difference in their pain levels—for better or for worse.
There are a few ways you can cope with weather-related symptoms, including:
- Take advantage of indoor air-conditioning to cut humidity levels
- Use ice therapy to soothe and decrease inflammation to painful areas
In addition to the weather itself, several other seasonal factors can put a damper on your summer fun. Consider this list of back pain triggers in the summer—and tips for managing those triggers:
- Travel. Summer vacations away from home can be a lot of fun. But the travel generally involves sitting in a car or plane for extended periods of time, which can be very hard on your neck and back.
Luckily there are tools and tactics you can use to make travel easier: Pain-Free Travel Tips
- Sleep. Developing and worsening insomnia can be a problem during the summer. Long summer days can lead to a change in sleep patterns. Increased activity out of the house can make it impossible to keep a consistent sleep and nap schedule. Summer travel may have you sleeping on a different bed and mattress. Also, heat and humidity can make it difficult to be comfortable falling and staying asleep.
If you are having problems with insomnia or are concerned about how to avoid it this summer, consult: Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene.
- Activities. Many fun activities during the summer can aggravate back pain:
- Sporting events are great to attend during the summer, whether it's a child’s game or a professional competition. The downside is that stadium seats and bleachers are not very comfortable or supportive. If you are allowed, bring your own seating to a child’s game or a seat cushion if you have to sit in bleachers or stadium seats. Any type of portable product that provides support to your lower back while sitting will help.
- Amusement parks are also good summer fun, however they can require hours of walking or standing in line for the most popular rides and attractions. Take breaks to sit and rest when you can, and practice simple leg and back stretches to keep pain at bay:
- Gardening in the summer, much like snow removal in the winter, can put a great deal of strain on your back. From digging and tilling to harvesting and carrying the fruit, herbs, and vegetables, it all can lead to worse back pain due to muscle stress and improper posture. The best ways to avoid this kind of pain are to take breaks so you are not hunched over for too long, to practice proper lifting techniques, and to stretch before going out to garden.
Hopefully, some of these links and tips help keep your back pain levels in check during these warm summer months.