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4 Tips to Save your Neck and Back During Summer Road Trips

Now that summer is in full swing, but a lot of people don’t feel comfortable flying, many of us are planning road trips for those special summer getaways! It’s always fun to hit the road and explore a new place — but first, let me help you out with some tips to save your neck and back…

(For more tips – check out our Free Guides section on our website and also join us for our next virtual workshop all about neck and shoulder pain!)

Tip #1: Interrupt your sitting

The biggest strain on your body while traveling is undoubtedly the prolonged periods of sitting. Our bodies are made to move continuously throughout the day. Too much sitting puts extra load and compression on your spine, and can trigger an underlying problem you weren’t even aware of.

On road trips, getting out of your seat is critical for keeping your neck and back healthy. Try to plan extra time in your trip to pull over at rest stops and walk around. We recommend interrupting your sitting every 30 minutes for good neck and back health. I understand keeping up with that frequency on a long road trip is difficult, but something is better than nothing! You’ll want to capitalize on your rest stops by moving around instead of sitting.

Tip #2: Use a lumbar pillow

A proper lumbar pillow is not only essential for good lower back alignment while sitting, but also for proper neck alignment. We have natural curves in our spine that are designed to absorb shock and disperse load. When those curves aren’t maintained, especially for prolonged periods, you get abnormal and unwanted forces throughout your spine – resulting in pain and stiffness.

Ever heard of the dreaded “forward head?”

That’s the posture your neck assumes when it needs to compensate for lower back slouching. We sell lumbar pillows in our office, but you can also try making your own by rolling up a towel or sweatshirt. Just make sure the roll is thick enough to maintain the natural curve in your lower back without much effort while you sit. The built-in lumbar supports that come with your car are typically NOT adequate enough.

Tip #3: Adjust your car seat

This is an often overlooked, but important component to achieve healthy posture while driving. Too often, I see folks driving around with seats that are either too far away or too close to their steering wheel. If you’re too close, it will cause you to sit overly straight or upright, resulting in unnecessary strain in your neck and low back. If your seat is too far back, then it will be virtually impossible to maintain the natural curve in your lower spine, even with one of our lumbar pillows. Your arms will need to overreach for the steering wheel, causing strain in your shoulders. And your neck will assume that forward head posture just to remain upright, causing strain to your neck.

You want to make sure your seat is positioned in a way that allows your neck to be easily balanced on top of your spine and pelvis – without much effort. Your elbows should be at an approximate 90 degree angle when your hands are on the steering wheel, and there should be a relaxed 45 degree bend at your knee so that your foot can easily switch from gas to break without you having to constantly flex your thigh. Having your car seat positioned correctly before you take a long drive will significantly decrease the strain on your neck and back.

Tip #4: Use a neck pillow when you sleep

On road trips – we often sleep on mattresses that are less than optimal and certainly not as comfy as our own. Using a neck pillow while you sleep can significantly decrease morning pain and stiffness caused by poor sleeping postures.

Getting a good night’s sleep and not waking up in pain has a lot to do with the position you sleep in.

Just like with sitting, you want your sleeping position to be as balanced as possible. When you sleep on your stomach, your neck has no choice but to stay turned and extended to one side all night. Prolonged poor postures are not great for any joint in your body, but especially those in your neck. Your neck is the most mobile section of your spine which makes it much easier to “kink” if in a poor position. Sleeping on your back is not terrible, and it’s what many people prefer.., but depending on how firm or soft the mattress you’re sleeping on is… it could be difficult to maintain the natural curves in your neck and back while you sleep. If you sleep in a slouched position all night long, you’ll wake up with pain and stiffness.

If you can tolerate it, my favorite position for sleeping is on your side and with a neck pillow. This allows both your neck and low back to stay relaxed and with their natural curves.

To make a neck pillow, use a small towel roll about 3 inches in diameter and stuff it the long way inside the bottom of your pillow case. When you rest your head on the pillow, it acts like a comfy support to maintain good neck alignment while sleeping on your side. We can also order one for you!

Speaking of neck pain, our next online workshop is happening on Tuesday, July 21st from 6-7pm and it’s all about neck and shoulder pain! Join from the comfort of your home — because it’s virtual!

Click here to reserve your seat!

What’s in Your Water? Healthy Hydration Tips

It’s officially cold and flu season, and keeping your body healthy while everyone’s stuck inside together requires a little extra effort. Staying hydrated is crucial to fighting off those viruses that everyone seems to be sharing. And if you really want to amp up your hydration routine, try adding fruits or safe-to-eat essential oils! These simple infusions can improve your immune system, clear toxins, and help you feel more energized and relaxed!

Adding fruits and herbs to your water is an easy way to make your water taste delicious – while giving you a huge boost of vitamins and antioxidants as well! Drinking fruit infused water has additional health benefits that are lacking with plain drinking water. For instance, citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes contain high levels of Vitamin C. Slicing up these fruits and adding them to your water can help repair tissue, prevent heart disease, and keep you from getting sick! Herbs are also a great asset to your overall health. For example, mint soothes the stomach while basil acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. There is even substantial research to show that rosemary can actually boost your memory. Mango improves eye health and pineapple aids digestion – the list of benefits goes on and on!

Another option that we advocate for is infusing essential oils are an excellent alternative. We love them so much that we’ve partnered with doTERRA and diffuse them in our office regularly. Did you know that you can just put a few drops in your water (make sure you’re drinking from a glass container) and it will make your water taste good while also promoting mental relaxation, energy boosts, and improved immunity. Our favorites are lemon, lime, and wild orange – and sometimes we even mix them together! If you want to know more about doTERRA and try essential oils for yourself, you can check them out here. Pro tip: sign up as a wholesale customer and you can get 25% off every time you order something!

Maintaining proper hydration will help you stay healthy through the winter, and adding fruit or essential oils to your water will help you drink more while providing numerous health benefits. If you are curious about pursuing a healthier lifestyle, get in touch! Like us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to receive our biweekly blog posts, see more information about our physical therapy and Pilates programs, and connect with our team of dedicated wellness professionals.