Physio: Hitting the road hits back

If you want to avoid the typical road trip ailments, try a few of these tips.

It’s that time of the year again; the golf courses are open, the snowbirds are returning and a few brave souls, who obviously feel no pain and have no fear, are swimming in the lake.

Living in the Okanagan we have access to many great activities—lakes, mountains, golfing, biking and wineries.

Despite what we have at home, there is something about the thrill of a road trip that entices us to venture out of the valley. Camping in the Rockies, fishing trips up north, family visits to the coast; road trips are exciting and adventurous. Unfortunately, sitting in a car for hours at a time is not an ideal situation as we may develop pain in our backs and necks and ruin the activities which we set out to do in the first place.

All of us are familiar with the stiffness we feel after a road trip. Our bodies have been stuck in a seated position, during which our lower backs, shoulder blades and upper back tend to round forward, placing our necks in an extended position.

When these positions are maintained for long periods of time a phenomenon known as creep occurs.

Because of the unique properties of our tissues, the longer we apply a stretch, the more our muscles and ligaments elongate and the more distribution of water occurs in our spinal discs (Kisner 2007).

If the stretch is held for a long time, the tissues can become permanently lengthened, which may place more stress on our joints.

Even if the tissues are only temporarily stretched, when we go to use them again, they are now at a greater risk of being injured. Both of these situations can lead to aches and pains in our back and neck.

If you want to avoid the typical road trip ailments, try a few of these tips.

Sit upright

Take the family car that has the best seats. Ideally you want to sit with your knees and hips at 90 degree angles. Cars that have seats, which are more upright: vans, trucks and jeeps, are more likely to keep our backs in a neutral position and our hips at 90 degrees.

Cushion lower back

If you do not have the option of driving one of these cars make sure the back of your seat is in an upright position and try rolling a towel, small pillow or even a sweater to fit into the curve of your lower back. This will naturally keep your back in a neutral position, preventing creep and fatigue of your back muscles.

Don’t reach

To take care of your upper body, adjust your seat so that it is close to the steering wheel. Now you are not reaching forward with your arms and rounding your mid back and shoulder blades.

Stop frequently

Finally, thank the woman in your life who needs to stop every half hour to use the washroom. Frequent stretching breaks can help prevent the tissues from stretching to the point of permanent damage. When you get out of the car, straighten your back slowly. Lifting up too quickly can cause pain from the pressure placed on the part of the discs that have now have more fluid in them.

Useful stretches

Standing by the side of your car, try some quick stretching exercises:

1. gently lean your upper body backwards

2. turn your upper body from side to side keeping your feet planted on the ground

3. squat down to the ground and back up and

4. stretch your hips side to side.

For your upper body, stretch the chest muscles by opening your arms and pulling them behind your body, turn your head from side to side, stretch your ears to your shoulders and lastly do a few jumping jacks to get all your muscles pumping and your circulation moving again.

Now that you are prepared to survive the road trip get those coolers packed, tunes blasting and hit the road, Jack, without hurting your back.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

WildSafeBC: What to do when you find a fawn

Fawning season occurs from May to early July

BOYD Autobody and Glass aims to raise $50,000 for Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre

A presentation with sponsors will be held on June 18 in place of the annual car show

Curbside reads available as Okanagan libraries reopen

Okanagan Regional Library reopened June 2 in phased approach

Rogers Communications begins virtual hiring for 350 jobs in Kelowna

Rogers is hiring for its new Customer Solutions Centre

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

How to safely drink water in areas impacted by flooding

Quality and safety of drinking water can be affected during and after floods

Three Calgary men make smart decision while lost in Shuswap

Adventurers’ vehicle breaks down at night in Seymour Arm area

Motorcycle driver disappears after crash along Highway 1 in South Shuswap

Chase RCMP respond to two single-vehicle crashes over the weekend

RCMP report Shuswap suspect threatened to kill neighbours

Police say man was arrested with loaded weapons inside vehicle and residence

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Morning Start: #BlackLivesMatter started with a love letter

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Most Read