Air Conditioning Is Bad For Your Back Pain

air con affects back painIn the last post I talked about ergonomic chairs that support the lumbar spine  in the right place, but even some ergonomic chairs, still fail to keep the back warm, because they have a mesh becking. This allows cold air from air conditioning vents to pass through.

While this is great when you first arrive at work, after you have been running up the stairs, it is not ideal after two hours of sitting down, when workers’ body temperature has considerably dropped. No-one thinks to turn the air conditioning down or increase the air temperature after an hour or so, and this too can save people’s backs.

People who are prone to back pain should not be sat near or in the path of air vents, as this can worsen their condition. It is an invisible threat and so often goes unnoticed, even by the sufferers themselves. For the people who are always hot, and insist on the air-con being ramped up to full power (“cranked up to 11” as Spinal  Tap – scuse the pun – would say!), those individuals should have an additional small fan in their faces (it’s usually their faces that need the breeze most).

Here’s another silly thing that a lot of employers do that costs them more money. They have the air con on full all day, but it’s set to room temperature. You can achieve the same results  if you have the air con on low and set to room temperature. It just takes longer initially!

Turning it up to full power is only needed for a short amount of time to change the temperature quickly.

So tell your employer you know a cool way (sorry, I’m all puns today) that they can save money on electricity AND on sick days from people with bad backs, simply by having the air con on low!

Image by Kenkwsiu on Flickr


4 thoughts on “Air Conditioning Is Bad For Your Back Pain”

  1. Please advise me about my neck pain. For some time now (since about three months), I have been experiencing very severe pain on in the area between the left side of my neck and my upper shoulder blade; it is felt most towards the neck. Now I have been used to having my office air conditioner on (between 18 and 22 degrees) on most days. Coming across this post, I have decided to contact you for your advise. Also I have using a special chair for my back, following surgical intervention to crutch my kidney stones.

    Besides these, I have been experiencing increased body temperature on and off since I came down with clinical laboratory-confirmed malaria, since a period of three weeks now, for which I took treatment.


    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you had malaria and kidney stones surgery. I can only tell you what has worked for me regarding pain, and I am not qualified to say whether your pain is connected to the malaria or not.

      Regarding the neck pain and the air conditioning, it is not necessarily the temperature alone, but also your proximity to the direction of air flow. Sitting in a draught, even a light draught, for prolonged periods of time, (such as in an office all day) has been known to cause or increase neck pain. You could try experimenting by sitting in different locations (if possible), to see if it makes a difference. You could start by placing ribbons or something similar around the room to identify where the jets of cold air are most prevalent, and avoid sitting near those. (They are not always in the most obvious places, as air flow bounces off various objects).

      Sleeping in an awkward position could also be responsible for your pain, although usually when that happens, the pain only lasts for a few days. But sleep position and sitting in a subtle draught while at work could both be factors.

      Massage and gentle exercise to the shoulder can be beneficial. Applying heat for a few minutes beforehand should help, and will make massage and exercise easier if done straight afterwards. You might find that you can’t move your head very much while you are in severe pain. So don’t exercise your neck by moving your head. Instead, exercise your arms gently, (shoulder rolls and arm rolls if you can), which will warm up the shoulders. But stop exercising and rest the area if the pain increases.

      Good luck, I hope you are much better soon.


  2. two weeks ago I walked in our arena,which was very cold area area for approximately 40 minutes ,the next morning got out of bed and felt stiff and could not bend,had exrays and found inflamation in the lower spin,was given 42 teva naprox 375 mg tab.three times daily for 10 days,then14 pms baclofen 10 mg tab,for the evening to relax the muscles.Still no change,any ideas?.

  3. I have suspect this for awhile, since I can no longer sit near our AC without being more pain.

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