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Why does my back hurt more in winter?

Published: 14 July 2014

Have you ever noticed how those aches and pains seem to pop up again during the colder months?

With the cold weather upon us now, many people with back injuries find that their back pain gets worse, while others start to feel a lower backache for the first time.

You may be wondering just why this happens, so here are the top five reasons your back hurts more in winter and how to prevent it.

Five reasons your back hurts more in winter:

  1. We become more sedentary during winter, with prolonged periods of sitting. When it is cold outside we tend to rug up and curl up to keep warm. This can lead to poor posture resulting in more stress being placed on your back structures.
  2. We tend to exercise less. This is mainly due to the cold and wintery days and the fact that the daylight hours are less. As a result, your body tends to get deconditioned and does not maintain its strength and stability. Due to this lack of movement, you don’t stretch out all the muscles and joints regularly, causing muscle tightness and joint stiffness.
  3. Our muscles tend to tense up in the cold and we often shiver, resulting in increased muscle tension the back that may tighten up and feel achy. If your back is tight already, the effect of the decrease in temperature caused by cold weather will most likely make the muscles tighter and therefore more painful.
  4. We tend to eat more in winter and exercise less, which can quickly lead to weight gain. This extra weight can put increased stress and pressure on the lower back.
  5. In winter we tend to drink less water because generally we don’t feel as thirsty. Dehydration can lead to back ache and disc narrowing. When your discs are dehydrated they cannot share the load and more force goes through other structures.

How to prevent back pain in winter

So what to do this winter to prevent this? It’s actually quite easy to reduce the aches and pains in your back caused by the colder months.

  • Getting out and being more active will go a long way.
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Stay hydrated
  • Sit up straight
  • Do regular stretches

Oh and rug up and keep warm - it’s cold out there!

You have persistent lower back pain; even in the warmer months, you should consult a specialist at your local Back In Motion practice.


Tom Hindhaugh - Physiotherapist and Director, Back In Motion Bayswater

Tom is the Practice Director and most senior physiotherapist at Back In Motion Bayswater. Tom graduated in 1994 and worked for three years in hospitals and private practices prior to starting work at Bayswater Physiotherapy Centre. In 2001 he took over the ownership of the practice. Tom has undergone full training in Clinical Exercise and his treatmwnt interest areas include sporting injuries, neck pain and headaches.