Why Is Cold-Damp Invasion So Common After Exercise? Posted on 29 Dec 09:54

I've had many patients who, after exercise, wound up with a stiff and painful low back or outsized muscle stiffness and soreness.  It bothered me that people neither prone to cold nor dampness routinely could be susceptible to what was obviously a Cold-Damp Invasion into the muscle layer, especially commonly so for those with pre-existing low back conditions.  How could that be so?  Obviously, this was also even more true for people who were already prone to Cold-Damp conditions.

Core body temperature for human beings is approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Perspiration, which is a Yin substance, therefore, coming from the interior of the body, until it escapes the pores, is also approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  As it is an 'animated' substance before being secreted through the pores, held beneath the skin, it is, therefore, biologically active, as it is a part of our life.  Once perspiration is emitted through the pores it becomes inanimate.  It no longer really belongs to us.  It becomes resting dampness.  Further, its temperature drops dramatically in moments.  That's how the body cools itself, by emitting heat transmitted along with the water of sweat.

So this now inanimate sitting wetness becomes Dampness by virtue of position and temperature and non-movement.  Its temperature is now well below core body temperature and as the pores have opened to secrete the perspiration, this person is now vulnerable to the Cold-Damp re-entering through the same open pore system through which the sweat originally escaped to the outside.  This, I assert, is the reason for this all too common phenomenon of low back injury or muscle stiffness and soreness after exertion in any temperature, even warm weather or elevated temperatures and certainly following exercise in which ANY perspiring was going on.  This effect is magnified, sometimes dramatically, if damp clothing is allowed to stay in place for more than a few moments in many cases.  This can include people sitting in a hot car for long enough that they perspire and now the wet clothing is sitting in direct contact with the skin.  As soon as it cools, for example when someone arrives a a destination and peels his back away from the back of the seat of the car, the potential for harm begins.

The solution is for people who are vulnerable in this way to introduce a clean, relatively thick, dry, water absorbent cloth, like a small towel, between clothing and skin if the clothing still has to be worn for more than a few moments.  Or, get out of the gym clothes and shower right away.  For those who perspire in the region of the lumbar spine to any degree, a small absorbent cloth kept there while getting dressed in street clothes after exercising and then kept there until cool-down is complete can avoid those surprising flare-ups of low back pain due to Invasion of the Sinews by Cold-Damp.