Summer is the ideal time for family vacations, friend trips, or solo adventures. Often times, these journeys can take us far away from home, whether it be by car, bus, train, boat, or plane. This can mean extended periods of sitting, which can cause varying levels of discomfort and possibly pain. While sitting is an essential part of traveling, there are certain things you can do to help alleviate some of discomfort this may cause, making your vacation that much more enjoyable. At Botha Chiropractic, we want you to enjoy your vacation to the fullest extent, so we have come up with a brief guide of how to survive summer travels.
Road Trip Tips:
- Stretch: Make stretching an essential part of the trip. Prolonged sitting means your muscles are stagnant and this causes pressure to build up in your blood vessels. Stretching by alternating between contracting and relaxing your muscles helps to increase blood flow and decrease this pressure. Stretching before the trip will increase your blood flow in preparation for sitting, and then doing several small stretches will in the car will help maintain this blood flow. Try things like stretching apart your toes for a few seconds at a time, tightening your calf muscles and thighs, and rolling your shoulders.
- Take Breaks: In addition to small stretches, you will also want to take breaks while driving to get out and move around. This will alleviate excess pressure on your spine, increase your blood flow, and revive you for the next leg of your journey. Ideally, you would take breaks every 30 minutes to move around, however even every hour or two is beneficial.
- Bring a Cold Pack: Cold packs are great for reducing inflammation and numbing sore areas. Bring an ice chest with reusable ice packs to use during the trip to help alleviate symptoms. You can either start using ice packs before symptoms start or as soon as you begin to feel achy. The sooner you can reduce the inflammation, the better.
- Avoid Junk Food: Even though junk food is the traditional road trip food, it will only add to your problems. Most junk foods contain high levels of sugar, artificial sweeteners, or caffeine and all of these are foods that have been found to cause inflammation in the body. Plus, they will make you feel more fatigued and overall not good.
- Practice Proper Posture: While standing and sitting, be sure to stand or sit upright, allowing for the natural “S” curve of your spine to do its job. To maintain this posture while sitting for long periods of time, it may be helpful to roll jackets or blankets and put them under that curve.
- Don’t Carry Too Much Weight: Any bags that exceed 5-10% of your body weight should be checked baggage. This will allow you to move around the airport before your flight without having to place extra stress on your back carrying too much weight.
- Give Yourself Plenty of Room: Although you can store baggage under the seat in front of you, make sure that you still have adequate space to sit comfortably. Also, take care when placing these items to not bend or force objects at weird angles that could irritate your back.