Don’t Pack Pain for your Summer Vacation!

Are you traveling this summer?
Whether you are taking a plane to a tropical island, driving to the coast, riding your bike in the mountains or doing extreme water sports on the lake, we want you to be safe this summer while still having fun.

Sitting for long periods of time in the same cramped position while traveling to your destination, sleeping in unfamiliar beds and sleeping without the same supportive pillows, dehydration and the stress of travel and time zones on the nervous system can all take their toll on our bodies.

There is definitely no space for pain when flying to your destination. Dr. Brian recommends to bring a towel with you on your flight.  Roll it up and put it in your seat for a lumbar support while flying.  Also carry a large zip lock bag incase you need to ice any sore areas while traveling.  Turbulence shock and the vibration we experience while taking a plane may also cause a change to the structure of the spine and may lead to stiffness and discomfort and left untreated could cause a disc bulge and nerve compression. Stay well hydrated and move around regularly during the flight. We also suggest keeping the weight in your suitcase to a minimum. Don’t be tempted to over fill your suitcase and choose appropriate luggage with wheels or padded and supportive straps. Keep your back straight, use your core strength, bend from the knees when lifting your suitcase from the carousel and also loading it into taxis and cars. Healthy food choices, minimal alcohol consumption and adequate sleep while on vacation also help to keep you feeling and functioning at your optimum.  After all the reason we take vacations is to rest and recuperate from life’s stressors.   Have fun but remember moderation in everything is best.  If you are traveling with a child, ask the airline for their policy on child car seat safety. Car seats for infants and toddlers provide added resistance to turbulent skies and are safer than the lap of a parent in the event of an unfortunate accident.  A quick trip to your chiropractor before you fly to help optimize function and prevent any potential injuries is also a great idea.

If you suffer back or neck pain, car road trips can be torture. Some of the main factors contributing to car rides being catastrophic on a “bad back” are as follows: poorly manufactured seats, chronic contraction of leg and back muscles (pedal management), and immobilization of the spine in the seated position. Be aware that pain from a long car ride often results after the ride is over. Issues can arise hours or even days later. Here are some helpful tips for those long car rides.

  • LAPS: Pull over once an hour and walk or jog five laps around the vehicle. This can be completed in less than three minutes. If traveling with family or a competitive business colleague, make it a race!
  • WALLET: Remove the wallet out of your back pocket. If a wallet remains constantly on one side of the body it can cause pelvic unleveling that can lead to, or aggravate lower back pain.
  • LEANERS: People have a tendency to lean toward one side or the other while driving. This can wear your car seat unevenly and also create asymmetry and muscle imbalance in the spine and hips. Always sit evenly weighted on both your “sit bones”.
  • LUMBAR SUPPORT: Most people only set their adjustable lumbar support in their vehicle one time. Your back does not approve of staying in one position! Every 20 minutes change the support level significantly. It is essential to provide different positions for the lumbar spine so it is not immobilized while driving.

Cyclists, even those not of Tour de France level, are susceptible to overuse injuries. Bikers tend to suffer from shoulder and neck pain from cycling. For the best experience on the trail, make sure to have the proper bike, most commonly used is a mountain bike with thick tires to absorb the shock and a bike with higher handle bars. The higher the handle bars the easier it is to keep your spine straight. Knowing the proper bike form is also key; your chest should be up, your arms should only support some of your weight – you shouldn’t hunch or expect your arms to carry a lot of the load. Get a shock absorbing seat or seat cover as well as covers for your handlebars. These little things will help to take stress off of your spine. You should aim for your muscles in your shoulders and neck to stay loose and periodically lower your head or raise it in order to help avoid injury.

There’s no better way to beat the heat than extreme water sports, but it can also be one of the most dangerous parts of the summer. If you’ve never been whitewater rafting, you owe it to yourself to try it, but be warned: if you encounter whitewater (class 3-4 rapids), your body will take a beating. It’s fun, but the sudden chop can cause sprains in your neck, and possibly even whiplash. The best defense here is prevention, so don’t take on a more challenging course than you’re prepared for. If you do find yourself with a sore back or neck after the activity, use cold, not heat to help bring the swelling down. Visit your chiropractor, as putting it off or ignoring it can only worsen your condition. When water skiing, the most common injuries are to the ankles (although head and neck injuries can also occur), because they’re attached to the skis, and if you fall over, it’s going to inevitably stress your ankles, resulting in a strain or sprain. From a prevention standpoint, your best bet is to go slower on windy days with more chop, and be sure you’ve exercised to build up your leg and ankle strength before skiing. Again, going slower on windy days and not crossing boat waves will minimize your risk, but if you fall, especially if you suffer neck pain immediately after, don’t delay a visit to your chiropractor.

Your chiropractor wants you to know that pain is not an unavoidable consequence of traveling. You can enjoy your vacation pain-free by seeing your chiropractor for assessments and preventative care and getting a spinal adjustment to keep you on the road, in the air, or on the trail. Remember, chiropractic care is well care – even if you don’t feel injured it doesn’t mean there’s not an underlying injury that needs chiropractic care.  Enjoy your summer!

Gonstead Difference