Planning on taking a road trip this summer? Whether you’re heading to a beautiful beach or for some hiking in the mountains, road trips can be endless fun.
But when you’re sitting in a car for hours, back pain isn’t uncommon, especially if you have previously had back pain or currently struggle with spinal discomfort.
Fortunately, you don’t have to let back pain ruin your summer road trip. We have some tips for keeping your spine healthy and pain-free while you’re on your way to your destination and back!
Take Stretch Breaks Frequently
Just as when sitting at a desk, it’s important to take stretch breaks frequently when sitting in a vehicle.
Our bodies were not meant to sit for hours on end, and doing so can result in a stiff spine and back discomfort. In addition, sitting for too long can weaken the muscles that support your spine, which increases your risk for a spinal injury.
If you can, take stretching breaks every hour to stand up, take a short walk, and stretch your back. Your spine will thank you!
Consider Using a Lumbar Pillow
Most seats in a vehicle are not designed for back comfort, especially for long road trips. If you find it helpful, use a lumbar pillow intermittently throughout your drive. A lumbar pillow helps support the lower spine and can make proper posture while sitting or driving easier.
So why shouldn’t you use a lumbar pillow for the whole trip? Using a lumbar pillow for short periods of time can help relieve discomfort, but keeping the pillow there may cause the discomfort to return. Experiment with using a lumbar cushion and see which intervals feel best for your spine.
Make Changes to Your Seat Throughout the Trip
Did you know changing your seat position throughout a road trip can help you avoid consistent pressure points on your joints and spine? That’s right, making minor changes to your seat position during a road trip may help prevent or reduce back pain when sitting for long periods.
Adjust your seat whenever you take a stretching break or more often if needed. You might be surprised how these small changes can positively impact your back comfort!
Do a Dynamic Warm-Up Before Getting in the Car
A dynamic warm-up is a warm-up that essentially incorporates movements with stretching. Doing a dynamic spinal warm-up will help you stretch your spine and engage your muscles before getting into the car for a long drive.
Try this routine to stretch and mobilize the muscles in the back before you hit the road:
- Cat-Cow Stretch. Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Inhale and arch your back, drop your belly towards the floor, and lift your head and tailbone up (cat position). Exhale and round your spine, tucking your chin towards your chest and tucking your tailbone under (cow position). Repeat this movement 8-10 times, fluidly transitioning between the two positions.
- Forward Fold. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and gently bend forward from the hips, allowing your upper body to hang loose. If you have tight hamstrings, you can bend your knees slightly. Let your hands fall towards the floor, feeling a stretch in your upper back and shoulders. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds.
- Supine Knee Hugs. Lie on your back and hug one knee towards your chest, gently pulling it in with your hands. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch to the other leg. Repeat this movement for a total of two to three times on each side.
- Spinal Twist. Lie on your back with your arms extended out to the sides, palms facing down. Bend your knees and slowly drop them towards one side to bring them towards the floor while keeping your shoulders grounded. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Remember, it’s essential to listen to your body and not push through any pain, especially before a road trip. Gentle exercises with proper posture can help you engage your muscles and support your spine to reduce the chances of discomfort for your vacation.
Schedule a Chiropractic Appointment Before and After Your Trip
Getting your neck and spine adjusted before and after your road trip can help minimize discomfort and ensure your spine and joints are ready to support you during your summer road trip and minimize discomfort after you get home. Are you new to chiropractic care? Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Ward to discuss your spine health goals before your trip!