Reducing Road Trip Back Pain
How refreshing is it to breathe in the springtime air after a cold and stuffy winter? And with summer just under a month away, folks will be trading in their parkas for bathing suits, fuel tanks for their grills, and supplies to embark on adventurous, scenic road trips. It can be a great feeling to pack up the car and hit the open road, however, prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your back if you aren’t careful. Road trip back pain can put a damper on your travel plans, but there are ways in which you can reduce the chances of being stuck hunched over during your vacation.
How Can I Minimize Road Trip Back Pain?
Don’t Drive While Stressed or Fatigued:
Preparing for your vacation can be hectic all in itself. The stress of making sure everything is in order, planning proper routes, and ensuring a good time can take its toll on not only your back but your entire body. Stress can involuntarily tighten the muscles in your neck and back causing pain or spasms. Fatigue can be just as impactful and quite dangerous when behind the wheel for extended periods of time. Try to organize everything for your trip a few nights prior to your departure and get a solid night’s sleep the evening before to reduce these factors.
Choose the Right Car:
If you own more than one vehicle, choose the one that has the most room inside. Clear out any unnecessary clutter around the seats and leg areas. Additionally, a poorly maintained vehicle can make for a bumpy ride. Constant bouncing up and down will add unwanted pressure to your spine, especially while traveling long distances. While you don’t have much control over insufficient and bumpy roadways, you can control the condition of your vehicle. Top off all necessary fluids, make sure your tires are relatively new with sufficient tread and have your shocks and brakes inspected. A well-functioning automobile will better serve for a less bumpy ride and lessen the impact on your spine.
Stretch Before Departure:
Warming up your muscles is crucial for reducing road trip back pain. Properly stretch and rotate your back and neck muscles before any extended journey. Stiff leg muscles will also cause discomfort and can then manifest into lower back aches, so thoroughly stretch those as well. It is recommended to stretch all of your muscle groups for at least 10-15 minutes before your trip and anytime you stop for a break.
Find Your Comfort Zone:
Take the time to properly adjust your seat. You shouldn’t have to stretch your arms to reach the steering wheel or stretch your legs to reach the pedals. All of these movements place unnecessary stress on the neck, shoulders, and spine. Adjust your mirrors accordingly after you’ve positioned yourself with a comfortable posture in your seat. Additional seat cushions underneath or behind you can work well for added support, but be sure to adjust your mirrors after settling in with the extra cushion. No slouching either! Sit up straight and align your back with the back of the seat. Plant your feet to support your back and not put undue stress on your spine.
Bulky items in pants pockets can throw your spine out of alignment, so remove anything from your pockets; especially items such as wallets in your back pocket that can force you to lean more to one side. To keep your back muscles even looser, consider a portable heating pad or long-lasting heating patches for your back and/or neck. For heat pads with adjustable temperatures, be sure to set the heat at a comfortable level to avoid having to change it while driving.
Take Frequent Breaks:
Don’t try to set the land speed record for arriving at your destination. You’ll pay for it later with the back pain. Instead, stop and smell the roses. It’s a gorgeous time of year, after all! Take frequent breaks and get out of the car, stretch your muscles and get the blood flowing. Just plan ahead and schedule your stops, ideally every 1-2 hours. The movement stimulates your circulation which brings both oxygen and nutrients to revitalize your lower back muscles. If you go longer than an hour, move around a little and stretch in your seat; any movement helps, like pumping your ankles to stimulate blood flow. But do so carefully while driving!
Schedule a Massage Before Departure:
Another way of preventing road trip back pain is nipping it in the bud before the trip even begins. By scheduling a massage appointment a day or two prior to departure, not only will your spine and neck feel reinvigorated and better prepared for the journey but what a way to kick off your vacation! Minimize the stress that can come along with planning a long trip by targeting the areas that can become problematic through hours of driving.
Access to Health will always be there in the event that you suffer from road trip back pain or an injury, but our main goal is to prevent it from happening at all. Call us today at (860) 889-1475 to schedule your chiropractic appointment!