It’s that time of year when families are heading out on summer road trips. New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer advises that along with the adventure many will experience nagging back pain as the result of hours being cramped behind the steering wheel.
And those with chronic spine ailments are especially at risk because for these patients, riding in a car for an extended period of time is one of the more difficult positions. This position weights the axial spine and positions the center of gravity directly over the discs, which can increase pain. The problem is often aggravated by poor seats and poor posture, which can worsen the load on the spine even more.
But according to your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon, summer road trips don’t have to be a pain in the neck—or back—if you’re properly prepared. Following are some tips for reducing back pain during long summer road trips:
1. Make sure your body is prepared: If you’re susceptible to back problems, consider investing in a lumbar support pillow prior to leaving on your trip, and test it out for the right fit before you leave.
2. Plan successful packing: Always be careful when loading and unloading your trunk, adhering to the old adage to lift with your legs, not your back. And your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon advises against moving objects that are too heavy for you; ask for help before you push yourself too far.
3. Maintain good posture: Good posture is vital in preventing back and neck pain while you’re on your road trip. Place your seat upright with your legs comfortably extended.
4. Move around: Change positions frequently, and if it’s safe, use cruise control occasionally to relax your right leg and stretch your hamstring while on the road.
5. Allow for stops: Preplan stops every two hours or so to allow yourself an opportunity to rest, walk around and stretch cramped muscles. Stretch your hamstrings and quads especially if you are sitting too close to the wheel and your knees and hips are flexed for hours.
6. Don’t do it alone: If possible, sharing the driving with another adult will allow you to relax your muscles and your mind while you recline in the passenger seat.
7. Listen to your body: If the pain becomes too intense, stop, rest, ice and lay down with a pillow under your knees.
If you have any questions regarding how to prepare your body for a summer road trip, call the office of New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer today to schedule a consultation.