Why Do Astronauts Have Back Pain?


Living in zero-gravity for months at a time might sound like a thrilling adventure, but the majority of astronauts experience moderate to severe back pain as well as numerous other health risks while in space. While back pain in astronauts has long been attributed to disc swelling due to weightlessness, new research has uncovered a completely different cause.

Learn more about this underlying cause of low back pain in astronauts, as well as some of the tips that anyone can try to help alleviate similar symptoms.

The Link Between Back Pain and Muscle Weakness

The weightlessness that astronauts experience while in space does play a crucial role in the development of back pain, but in a surprising way. Rather than causing spinal discs to swell, which had been the previous belief, MRI scans showed that weightlessness contributes to significant muscle loss. Weakened muscles translate to back pain because of the lack of support that they provide to the spine.

Back specialists suggest that performing exercises that target the muscles surrounding the spine can have a profound effect on back pain reduction and prevention.

How to Strengthen Muscles to Relieve Back Pain

Although many of us aren’t spending time in space, the same underlying cause of back pain can be true for anyone. If you struggle with lower or upper back pain, try adding yoga exercises to your workout routine to help strengthen the muscles throughout your body, including those responsible for providing spinal support. You might also try these tips for back pain treatment:

  • Back stretches
  • Taking a break from your office chair
  • Focusing on having good posture throughout the day
  • Getting regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight