Summer’s a dangerous time of year no? Er no, that’d be winter. Summer’s great – sun (until recently anyway), holidays, BBQs, kids off school (feel free to disregard the last one!).
But actually, there are a number of things about Summer that can lead to trouble – heat, insects, bored kids! And holiday travelling is right up there with its risks of back and neck pain. So, before you squeeze your suitcase shut, throw it on to the roof of the car and head off on your hols, here are some easy but important tips to keep your back and neck in top shape over the next few weeks.
Planes, trains and automobiles
However you choose to travel, long, hot summer journeys can aggravate back and neck pain. Sitting in an uncomfortable plane seat, the strain of driving for long periods and long queues all take their toll.
Don’t start the holiday in pain. Follow these simple steps and help minimise the risk.
Lighten the load
Pack as lightly as possible. Don’t worry about forgetting something. Chances are that where you’re going has shops, so you won’t be left stranded. Carrying heavy bags can do more harm than whatever it is you’ve left behind is worth!
Go easy with the lifting and shifting
Take your time when putting cases into the car. Get help. Do it in stages. It doesn’t all need to be done in one hit. And if you’re lifting things from low to high (like a case into an overhead locker), do it in stages. Lift it from the floor to the seat. Reposition yourself so you’re square on. Then lift it from seat to locker.
And don’t forget the obvious postural stuff when you’re lifting. Bend from your knees not your lower back. Keep heavy objects close to your body. Don’t lift and twist if it can be helped, especially from a bent forward position.
If your lower back doesn’t like sitting for long periods then get yourself a low back support. They’re light and inexpensive and they might save you a trip to the osteopath! If you need any advice on this, please contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.
And don’t forget your feet. They should be supported by the floor with your knees at right angles, with a minimum of twisting from the waist. Not always easy on a plane but do what you can.
Remember – try to keep an eye on your posture. Your back should be as supported as possible.
Sorry, common sense I know but it’s easy to forget if you’ve got a long journey. If driving, take breaks and don’t just to sit in the services clutching a coffee. Have a walk and a stretch as well. And with driving, it’s not always necessary to do the whole journey yourself. You might not be the best passenger but, even so, hand over control if your passenger drives!
On the plane, while it’s very English to not want to disturb your neighbour, put yourself first and have a walk up and down the aisle every 45 minutes. Don’t let yourself stiffen up.
Finally, if you can, before and after your journey, have a good stretch. Not just of your back but of your legs and hips too. If you’re not sure what to do, feel free to contact us but even if you do some circling of your hips followed by some bending forward, then some arching back of your back, this will help.
And don’t forget the pain relief!
Whether it’s anti-inflammatories, pain killers, ice, heat packs (disposable ones are perfect for journeys), gel or tiger balm, make sure you pack it. If all the above hasn’t helped, then at least you’ve got something to turn to if pain kicks in.
If you’ve not been in for a while, why not make an appointment for a bit of an MOT. A treatment will loosen you up nicely before a long trip. We can also give you more in-depth advice about self-help measures while you’re with us.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely humbug about summer. Of course it’s a great time. A chance to unwind, relax and refuel. But it’s still important to take yourself, if you don’t want to come back in September and have to head straight to your osteopath’s couch! Take care, have a great summer and please feel free to share some of your summer snaps on our Facebook page.