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Blast! Space travel leaves you taller... but at risk of suffering chronic back pain, study shows

Astronauts can grow three inches in space – putting them at risk of chronic back pain on their return, a study shows.

Weightlessness causes growth by straightening their spines but Earth’s gravity reverses this effect, which can result in debilitating pain.

Past studies show that 52 per cent of astronauts also experience back pain in the first two to five days of space travel, researchers said. 

New research has shown that astronauts can grow up to three inches in space because the weightlessness straightens the spine (Stock image)

It usually disappears, they added, but some develop conditions such as sciatica – a type of back pain that can radiate into the legs.

But exercising in a gym can prevent it and the International Space Station is now equipped with exercise machines, they noted.

The US team, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, believe ‘resistance suits’, which activate muscle groups, are also among the solutions. 

Study author Professor Steven Cohen said: ‘Insight into back pain in space travellers may provide usable information to treat back pain in other people.’