It was a long miserable winter, and this year it seemed as if the transition to warm weather was never going to take hold, but summer is finally here. If all those rainy weekends we had have left you itching to get outside and make up for lost time, we have a bit of advice for you: slow down!
If what our patients tell us is any indication, there are few things more frustrating than being laid up with back pain during beautiful weather.
Even if you’re not jumping the boat’s wake on water skis or jumping out of a plane, your summertime activities may put you at risk for back pain and injury, and this is especially true if you rush into them. To avoid strain and pain and keep your back healthy, here are some simple steps you can take.
Spending Your Summer Vacation Traveling?
Whether you’re headed out for the great American road trip or jetting off to a domestic or international location, remember that you need to give your body a chance to stretch and move. Sitting in one position for an extended period of time can be sheer agony for anybody already prone to back pain and can easily cause it too.
If you’re driving, schedule frequent breaks that allow you to take a walk and do some stretches. Though this is more of a challenge when you’re flying, take opportunities when the seatbelt sign is off to get up, walk the aisle, and stretch.
When you’re in your seat you can help avoid pain by rolling up a magazine, blanket or sweater and putting it behind your lower back, as well as in the area between the back of your head and the headrest.
One more important note about travel: be cautious when handling your luggage. Lifting a bag into an overhead compartment, into a truck or off of a luggage conveyor belt can lead to an injury that ruins the rest of your trip.
Ease Into Outdoor Activities
Sunny days are an invitation to play outside all day, just like when we were kids. Unfortunately, if you spent the winter sitting on the couch, your first foray into hiking, biking, gardening or golfing may represent a rude awakening.
Instead of rushing into any activity, it’s a good idea to take things slowly and get yourself into condition. If you plan on spending time planting flowers or weeding, there’s no need to do it all in one day. Spread your project out over a few days, and when you’re out there, make sure you take frequent breaks and stretch.
If you’re going to start a walking or running routine, start with short distances and make slow, steady increases, and if you’re headed out to the links remember that your heavy golf bag puts stress on your posture and your lower back. A good rule of thumb is to avoid carrying anything that exceeds more than 10 percent of your body weight – and the average golf bag can weigh as much as 35 pounds. Use a golf cart, buy a lightweight bag and make sure you stretch before starting to swing.
We hope you enjoy your summer, but know that if you need us, we’re here. If back pain strikes, contact our office to set up an appointment with our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey.