Ensuring good lifting technique is a necessity at all times. The 3 key points to consider when lifting are:
- Use your legs and not your back when picking up something off the ground.
- If you are having to lean forward when carrying or pulling something, bend from your hips and not the lower back. You can then keep your back straight and stable. This is called the ‘hip-hinge’ movement. It is a very important movement pattern to practice.
- Avoid twisting when you are lifting or carrying something, it is the worse movement you can do for your back.
When packing and emptying the car, make sure you use these good techniques. Try to place heavy objects closest to the door so that there is less pulling and reaching needed. You need to be extra careful lifting and emptying the car at the end of your trip. You will be a bit tired from the drive and a little fatigued so you will be more likely to hurt yourself.
Some car seats are really comfy, however, a lot of them still do not allow ideal posture. Good posture when sitting is even more important if you already have a problem. Here are the key things to do when sitting during long drives:
- Make sure you are sitting with the pelvis pushed against the back of the seat. This will help reduce slouching and ease pressure on the joints and muscles in the lower back.
- Use lumbar support. If your seat has lumbar support make sure you use it. If not, a lumbar roll or rolled up towel can give the extra support needed. This is most important if you have a lower back problem.
- If your seat has a headrest make sure you use it to help give the muscles in the neck a rest. Sitting in the slouched position with the head forward for a long period can lead to shoulder pain and headaches.
- Every half hour or so, do some gentle neck and shoulder stretches. This will help avoid the tightening of the muscles and stiffness that can occur.
Regular breaks are very important. Stop every few hours. Get of the car do some stretches and loosen up the body. If you are driving it is also a good idea as it will help wake up the brain. The stop doesn’t need to be long, just a 5 minute stretch break is good enough. It can be hard stopping, especially if you have just passed that annoying slow caravan that you had been stuck behind for ages, but a 5 minute break is much better than hanging on and flaring up the back and ruining your holiday.
This one is for people who are traveling with niggles. If you are driving and you start to feel a bit of discomfort, listen to your body, stop and give it a rest. Pain is there for a reason, it is your body telling you something, make sure you listen to it! Once again, a small break here can save a lot of problems in the future.
Stretching before and after the trip will help protect you from problems or flare ups. These are the basic areas to stretch:
- Lower back
- Neck and shoulders
- Hip flexors
If you are having some problems with the back or neck, it will be worthwhile to get it assessed by your health professional before the holidays. They can give you specific advice on what to do for YOUR needs and what particular things to avoid.
There you have my top 5 ways to protect your back during your summer trip. If you like the advice please hit the like button below and share this post so others can benefit from it too.
Have a Great Christmas and New Year period and remember to take care on the roads.