Many people rejoice once the warm temperatures of summer arrive, but if you have back pain, your feelings may be a bit more complicated. If you experience summertime spine issues, consider the possible causes and solutions for treating your pain.
Scientific studies have failed to show a concrete connection between weather and back pain, but anecdotal evidence abounds. For some, the hot summer season brings relief from back pain, but for others, symptoms worsen with the rising temperature and relative humidity, as already inflamed tissues swell even more. The low barometric pressure associated with incoming summer storms can also cause achy joints, which is why some people with arthritis and similar conditions may “feel” a storm rolling in.
When your back pain flare-ups are caused by heat and humidity, the easiest way to avoid pain is to retreat to an air conditioned space. Stay indoors during the hottest times of day, and reserve outdoor activities for the morning and evening when it’s cooler.
Summer is the most popular time of year for family vacations. It’s fun to get away, but travel can be taxing on your back. Long hours on a plane or in the car can get uncomfortable fast. Then, you have an unfamiliar bed to contend with, not to mention the long hours you’ll undoubtedly spend on your feet while touring and site-seeing.
Whether you’re going on a quick weekend trip or an extended holiday, make your plane, train or car ride easier on your back by bringing a lumbar support pillow. Place this behind your lower back to make unsupportive seats more comfortable.
Also, your body is designed to move, so sitting in one position for too long causes your muscles and joints to stiffen up. This worsens your existing pain and makes you more prone to injury later on. Make it a priority to get up during a plane ride, or pull over if you’re driving, to walk around and stretch your legs once every hour.
Increased Desire to Work Out
Warm weather brings on swimsuit season, which may encourage you to look your best. However, if you launch straight into an intense workout regimen after being mostly sedentary all winter long, your back is likely to complain.
It’s great that you want to get in shape – whether to achieve a beach body or just to improve your health – but you should start any new exercise routine gradually. The key to avoiding injury is to ease yourself into a new program over the course of several weeks. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor about the type of exercise you want to try.
The low-impact nature of swimming makes it the perfect way to stay fit without hurting your back. It’s also a fun way to cool off on hot summer days. With permission from your doctor, plan to take to the pool this summer, whether you choose to swim laps, sign up for a water aerobics class, or just mess around with your friends and family.
Spending all day at the amusement park is a fun summer activity, but unfortunately, it can wreak havoc on your spine. All the standing and walking combined with being jostled around on rough roller coaster rides might be too much for some people with chronic back pain to handle.
When you spend hours on your feet at the amusement park or during other summer activities, it’s easy to forget the importance of taking a break. Remind yourself to stop and rest, even if only for a few minutes. Grab a drink of water, sit down and lean back so your muscles can recover.
If your child plays baseball, soccer or another sport, you want to show your support by coming to every game. Unfortunately, bleachers and stadium seats tend to be uncomfortable, especially if you have chronic back pain.
If you can, bring your own seating to the game, such as a folding or camping chair. Even a cushion for your seat or back can make a hard bench much more comfortable.
Gardening, Lawn Care & Home Repairs
Growing your own garden can be incredibly satisfying, but not if it causes lingering back pain. The lifting, carrying, bending, crouching and hunching associated with gardening and lawn care make it a prime cause of summertime spine issues.
Also, a beautiful Saturday afternoon might seem like the perfect time to stain the deck, paint the fence or clean the gutters. Unfortunately, these activities put your body in unusual positions for long periods of time, which can result in a back injury or chronic pain flare-up.
If you don’t feel up for completing strenuous household chores or yard work, ask someone in your family to lend a hand, or hire a landscaper or handyman company to help. There’s no need to struggle with completing these tasks yourself if your back pain is getting to you.
Summer is the most popular time of year to buy a house, but whether you’re relocating to the other side of town or across the country, packing and moving can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining. If you already deal with back pain, the heavy lifting and seemingly endless trips down the stairs could be too much to bear.
Get as much help as possible from family and friends to ease the burden on your spine. Also, consider hiring a professional moving company to help you pack and relocate your belongings to a new house to relieve much of the physical and mental strain.
Other Helpful Tips for Combating Summertime Spine Issues
Even on days when you don’t have anything strenuous planned, your back pain may still flare up. Try these tips to prevent summertime spine issues and treat discomfort as it occurs.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration is common in the summer when warmer temperatures combine with increased physical activity. Water plays an enormous roll in the health of your spine, so remember to take plenty of drinks throughout the day. Bring a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go and sip from it often. The goal is to drink eight or more cups of water per day.
- Improve your posture: Everything from an awkward office chair to an unsupportive pillow can cause or exacerbate existing back pain. Choose ergonomic furniture and strive to always sit up straight. Experiment with different pillows to find one that works well for you.
- Take anti-inflammatory pain medication: When you know an activity is coming up that will strain your back, take over-the-counter pain relievers as recommended on the label to keep the worst of your pain away.
- Apply ice to painful areas: Even if your back doesn’t hurt, ice packs can help you cool down. Of course, they provide an added therapeutic benefit if you suffer from summertime spine issues. Wrap a bag of ice or frozen vegetables in a towel and hold it against the achy area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time up to 10 times per day. In cases of chronic back pain, it may also be helpful to alternate between an ice pack and heating pad to increase blood circulation.
Visit 360 Back & Spine Center for Relief from Summertime Spine Issues
Avoiding situations that trigger back pain, taking medication and applying ice as needed are effective treatments for some people. However, if you have debilitating chronic back pain, you may be devastated to miss out on your favorite summer activities.
Fortunately, 360 Back & Spine Center can help. We are dedicated to providing our patients with the best possible treatment for conditions such as lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs and undiagnosed low back pain. Visit one of our locations in Grapevine or Fort Worth to begin exploring your treatment options. For more information, please contact us at (682) 808-4389 today.