There’s a common wisdom, at least where I’m from, that sitting in a cross breeze/‘catching a draft’ causes your neck, or back, to go stiff and hurt; the most common explanation for the alleged effect seems to be that the temperature difference causes your muscles to cramp up. It makes sense, I’m told, because contrariwise, keeping your muscles warm relieves certain pains.
To me, this sounds a bit old wive’s tale-ish, but everyone around me is adamant that that’s what happens, and are likely to blame every random bout of pain on the windows that I like to leave open in the present temperatures. And of course, occasionally, these received wisdoms get it right, or at least provide an acceptable heuristic.
So, what’s the straight dope? Do cross breezes, drafts and the like cause back pain? Or is this just another example of erroneous folk medical wisdom?
I’ve never had problems with drafts and basic cross breezes, however,
when I was young and we had no air conditioning in the house I would often place an electric table fan next to my bed and aim it directly at my head going full blast when I slept on those extra hot summer nights. After repeated mornings of waking up with a stiff neck I learned my lesson.
You can get sore or stiff muscles from anything that causes an unnatural or prolonged strain. I suppose that a steady stream of cold air will encourage a muscle to contract (not necessarily cramp) and over a period of hours that could cause soreness, cramps, or spasms. The back and neck are particularly troublesome when they get sore. And if you get an injury in one place in your back/neck, the surrounding muscles react to compensate, causing a ripple effect. I was on a 12-hour filght Cairo-NYC last week and was getting back spasms from the damn coach seat. Those things are not ergonomically designed. :mad:
I don’t have medical research facts about drafts and sore muscles, just my personal experience.
I recall reading that joints often do respond to changes in weather. The change in pressure or temperature can cause calcium crystals to change shape, actually resulting in soreness or aching. I suppose these joints could be back or neck related.
But breezes and sore backs? I doubt it. I can see how the first fact could lead to the faulty conclusion, though.