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Surviving long car rides


The time of year has come when we hop in our cars and embark on road trips when the weather gets nice. I often have patients tell me that their vacation was great but the car ride was challenging. Whether you are suffering from low back pain, neck tension, or any other ailment, sitting anywhere for an extended period of time can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help ease the pain of travelling.

  1. Bring support for your neck and/or low back: Oftentimes, car seats are not ideal for supporting the back properly. If you don’t have an actual lumbar support pillow, you can roll up anything from a towel to a sweatshirt and put in in the curve in the low back. For the neck, particularly if you are not driving, an inflatable pillow can be used to reduce neck strain.
  2. Move as much as possible: Movement stimulates blood flow which is necessary to bring nutrients and oxygen to the tissues. Movement also helps to prevent stiffening of the muscles and joints. Make sure you don’t try to push out a car ride too long. Stop every few hours at the longest to just get up, move around, and stretch.
  3. Lift properly and pack light: Once you get to your destination, don’t forget the general rules for lifting. Bend at the knees, not the waist. Turn and face what you are lifting and never twist. Also, instead of bringing one bigger suitcase, divide your luggage into two smaller bags if possible.
  4. Quick pain relief: Ice and heat packs may be challenging to come by while travelling. There are disposable, one time use heat packs that you can buy. Also, getting a re-useable ice pack and putting it in an ice-filled cooler can help as well. Ice helps to decrease inflammation and heat helps to loosen muscles and increase blood flow. Oftentimes, alternating ice and heat can help when taking long car rides.