Roof racks and boxes are highly practical but loading and unloading them can be hazardous for backs. Very often oversized or heavy objects are loaded up into these as they won’t fit into the car. Lowering your items at arm’s length puts huge strain on your lower back. Unloading them with perhaps cold and stiff muscles after a long trip potentially could cause your back to ‘go’. Having a flexible support belt for the loading or unloading could well be a good idea. Getting luggage and small children in and out of the car can pose a real threat to your back.
If you’re spending an extended period in the car getting to and fro from your destination not to mention all the trips in between, having good posture in the car is even more important. This is especially true for those of you who are not ‘match fit’ and do not spend extended periods driving as a rule. If you do have the misfortune to have a puncture having the right equipment and technique is vitally important to reduce the chance of pulling something out of kilter or spraining something trying to get the wheel on or off. Make sure you have an expandable wrench to help make it easier to undo those wheel nuts overtightened by overzealous mechanics using air guns at your garage.
Take breaks – don’t drive too long!
We are all aware of the mantra tiredness kills, but I would like to add ‘and sitting seizes’. If you look to the animal kingdom – your pet dog or cat for instance, they never sit for long period they flop onto one side. When they do move they take their time and each time go through the same instinctive routine of stretching. Somewhere in our past I believe we lost the instinctive ‘drive’ to stretch regularly like our animal friends so it’s something we do not do now, and to make things worse we adopt postures for long periods of time that animals would never do. A long journey can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back causing you to lock up or stiffen to such an extent that your and your family’s whole holiday can be affected by it, so:-
- Aim to take a break every 1- 2 hours. Get out of the car and stretch your legs. Park as far as you can from the services building. This forces you to walk a bit further which has the effect of limbering up those tight muscles and joints more than if you parked right outside.
- Consider doing some general stretches – watch the the stretching advice video to pick up a few ideas. If you have the time give yourself 10-20 minutes to have a proper walk about.
If you stop at a service station try not to sit down again for another 20 minutes for a drink! Get a drink from one of the coffee/tea shops so you can have your drink on the go – i.e. walking around. If you must sit down then do make time to have that proper walk around for 10-20 minutes afterwards.
Simple ‘in car’ exercises
If you are stuck in traffic, you can do some simple exercises in your seat. Try buttock clenches, side bends, seat braces (pushing your hands into the steering wheel and your back into the seat – tensing and relaxing) as well as shoulder shrugs and gently rotating your head circles. You don’t have to do all of them. You could do one for instance at each set of red traffic lights.
By taking on board our advice we hope your joints and muscles won’t let you down this coming holiday. The clinic is here so you can get expert advice based on your symptoms wherever you are. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or drop us an email. Finally, have a happy, healthy holiday!
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