Summer is finally here! At last, it’s time to dedicate your weekends to warm, sunny days at the pool, adventures in the great outdoors, and long road trips to exciting destinations. Unfortunately, traveling to many vacation spots requires sitting in a car (or on a plane) for a bit longer than your back can handle.
As we’ve discussed in the past, sitting all day is a surefire way to invite back pain into your life. Being sedentary often leads to tight, achy muscles, and nothing ruins a vacation or long weekend like back pain. Here are a few tricks to combat sitting or driving back pain that will help you arrive at your destination feeling great:
1. Check Your Posture
Between packing, planning your drive, and loading the car, it can be easy to forget to adjust the position of your vehicle’s seat. It is important to make sure you are comfortable from the start of your journey, because a small discomfort can grow into a real problem. You should also bring along a small pillow or towel to serve as additional lumbar support for long trips.
If you are driving, keep in mind that you should have your seat close enough to the steering wheel that you do not need to strain to reach it, while maintaining at least 10 inches between your breastbone and the airbag. Try to maintain proper posture throughout your ride. If you have a tendency to slouch, ActivAided could be a great option, as it corrects posture through proper habit formation.
2. Share Driving Responsibilities
Sitting is not ideal for the spine, but driving can add even more of a burden to your back since you have even less ability to move around. Staying in one position has a tendency to cause your spine to lose its natural curve and places extra strain on the vertebrae and discs. Plus, because of the position of the headrest in many vehicles, looking straight ahead to keep your eyes on the road can leave your neck without support, forcing you to put strain on the cervical spine.
Though sometimes you must travel alone, if you are able to travel with another person who could share the drive time, let them drive for a while. This will give your muscles a chance to relax.
3. Get Active at Rest Stops
Rest stops help break up the trip and give you the chance to stretch out your back and legs. Taking advantage of this time can help prevent pain on the road and afterwards. Walking around at rest stops is a great way to get your blood flowing and muscles moving.
You can also spend time actively stretching to help undo the damage of sitting for extended periods of time. Prevention Magazine offers helpful yoga poses specifically to stretch out your hips, lower back, and shoulders during long car trips.
Don’t let discomfort keep you from enjoying your vacation! This is your time to relax and enjoy yourself, so keep these tips in mind to combat back pain on your next road trip.