The Art of Sneezing Safely

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AHHHH-CHOOO! Are you sniffling and sneezing with the cooler winter weather already? And now your back hurts as well?

Sneezing is a sign of irritation in the lining of the nose or throat. And while it can be annoying, it is rarely a sign of anything serious. Sneezing might be due to:

  • Common cold or flu
  • Allergy
  • Certain other triggers such as dust, pollution, dry air, spicy foods, strong emotions, medication and fragrance.

Sneezing is a way for the body to get rid of unwanted irritants. For example, if something tickles your nose, a signal is sent to your brain to say, “please get this annoying thing out of my nose”. The brain then sends messages to all the different muscle groups involved in sneezing and makes you sneeze.


Scientists estimate the speed of a sneeze to be more than 1000km/hour – roughly 85% the speed of sound!


With that in mind, it’s no wonder that a strenuous sneezing attack can leave you with back spasms and pain and can even cause injury.  Vigorous sneezing can cause sprains and strains to ligaments, the muscles between the ribs or even cause one of your spinal discs to become strained. All of this can lead to a great deal of discomfort. Sneezing might also aggravate preexisting injuries, trigger muscle spasms and aggravate pinched nerves.


Sneezing is definitely a part of life though, so how can you protect yourself from any sneezing induced injuries?


When you feel a sneeze coming on, tighten your abdominal muscles, and bend your knees. This will help brace your spine against the force of the sneeze. Don’t try to stifle the sneeze either, as this will also increase the internal pressure of your body – let it out, just remember to cover your mouth!

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