Summer has long been the time for Americans to hit the road, visiting relatives and seeing the sights. Though COVID-19 has definitely put a damper on plans and kept people from planes and crowded places, it has also spurred creativity, sending more of us out on road trips to parks, beaches and remote forests. Though getting there can be half the fun, it can also contribute to back pain unless you take proactive steps to prevent that from happening.
Here are our top tips for keeping your back healthy and your trip pleasant.
1. Plan carefully when packing
The more unnecessary things you bring with you, the more you’ll have to carry, and heavy bags are a top cause of back pain and strain. Today’s travel is less likely to involve help with carrying luggage, so keep things to a minimum and you’ll keep it light for yourself.
The other thing you can do to help avoid back pain is to use a backpack. Backpacks shift the load created by suitcases and single-shoulder bags to the middle of your back. If you keep the total weight to no more than 15 percent of your total body weight, you’ll end up enjoying the trip a whole lot more.
2. Make sure that you’re comfortable
Whether you’re in a minivan or a luxury sedan, your car’s seat reclines, allowing you to take unnecessary pressure off of your back. Bringing a small pillow, or even a rolled-up towel or sweatshirt will also help, as you can put it behind the small of your back to provide support for your lumbar spine.
3. Don’t sit for too long
If your road trip is going to have you in the car for more than a couple hours, plan to take stretch breaks that let you get out of the car, stretch and take some short walks. Keeping your muscles loose will avoid strain on your spine, and getting some fresh air will keep you feeling refreshed and alert. You can opt for rest stops that include food and bathroom facilities, or try to plan your trip around local hiking trails that can clear your head at the same time that they get your blood flowing.
4. If you need pain medication, take it
Whether it’s a matter of carrying along a bottle of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or remembering to pack your prescriptions, you do not want to find yourself in pain on the road without a remedy. Before you leave make sure that you’re well stocked on everything that you need.
5. Stay hydrated
Water is one of our most underappreciated remedies for just about everything that ails us. It keeps your joints lubricated, your muscles loose, and your brain sharp. Eight glasses of water a day is a good goal, but if you’re exercising you should drink more.
Whether you’re traveling or spending the summer in the comfort of your own home, there’s no need to put up with being in pain. For help with your discomfort, contact us today to set up a time for a consultation.