How To: Drive Pain Free On Your Next Holiday
It’s coming to that time of year again and many of us will be hitting the road to visit family, or just to get away.
This is supposed to be a fun and relaxing time of year but those long car trips can put a lot of strain on the body.
We often see people affected with neck, back, hip and shoulder problems as a result of car travel during the holiday season – the risk is heightened if you already have pain or weakness in these areas.
We want you to enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season we have prepared a list of tips and tricks to avoid spending Christmas and New Years in pain.
In this "How To:" we will uncover the reasons why you get pain driving in your car, some simple things you can do to reduce your pain on your trip and some quick eating healthy tips for your journey.
Let's get into it...
Why Do I Get Pain Driving?
Tight Hamstrings = Back Pain and Neck Pain?
Hamstrings tightness is a big contributer to back pain, especially when sitting for prolonged periods (driving anyone?).
Holding your legs to the pedals for long periods of time places tension on joints, muscles and nerves (nerves REALLY hate this position). People that suffer from sciatica know what I am talking about with driving, not fun.
A Few hacks to target the hamstrings while on the road:
- Ensure your seat is not too far away from the pedals.
- Before your trip, Stretch or Foam Roll your hamstrings.
- At each pit stop, gently but frequently stretch your hamstrings.
Neck and Shoulder Tension
Driving for long periods is also a major cause of neck and shoulder tension and pain.
Your posture while driving is a critical factor to look at to drive pain free this holiday season.
A few things to consider while on the road:
Bring your seat closer, this is going to help to keep your shoulders in a neutral position and prevent you from poking your head and neck forward. These are major sources of neck and shoulder pain.
Have everything you need within reach. It might seem obvious but we are not contortionists and car yoga is best avoided.
Using hands-free, keeping water and snacks nearby will prevent you from leaning and reaching around the car – as well as being unsafe, this can lead to neck, shoulder and lower back pain strain.
If you are going to sleep (this one is just for passengers!) make sure you invest in a neck pillow. Your head and neck will thank you for this little bit of support during the car snooze. A review of neck pillows can be found here. You can also recline your seat a little to stop your head rolling forward.
Take your mobility KIT!
Our next big tip is to bring a basic mobility pack with you.
Your trigger balls and foam rollers don’t need to take time off over the holidays and using them after your trip can help to reduce the effects of sitting and driving for a long time.
Even if you forget these items there might be a few things you can use when you get to your destination – no trigger ball? A deodorant or aerosol can might act as a substitute to get in to those problem areas.
If your foam roller hasn’t made the trip a rolled up towel will also do the trick!
Mobility Hacks To Keep You Pain Free On Your Driving Holiday
These are easy and effective mobility exercises to keep you pain free in the car.
Frequency is the key, small amounts often is better than once per day.
NO PAIN SHOULD BE FELT, if you do please see your local healthcare professional, if you are a Perth local and you want your pain sorted before your holiday click here to book your Physio appointment at Fieldwork.
Ok, let the exercises begin!
Self Neck Treatment: The Neck "SNAG"
Why do this exercise? To relieve neck tension by combining a neck stretch and a massage.
Equipment: Your Hands!
Tips: Place pressure through the "pulling hand" into the back and the neck or shoulder into the direction the neck is turning.
The finger pressure provides the massage, the neck rotation provides the stretch.
Neck and Shoulder Loosener: Quick Shoulder Rolls
Why do this exercise? This is great to reduce the effects of long term static postures, in particular, the slouch posture, quick shoulder rolls is a great addition to your driving.
Tips: Start with shoulders "up and down" first - then move onto "back and forward" and then circles.
Thoracic Extension with Towel
Why do this exercise? A rounded thoracic spine (mid back) places excessive load onto your neck with a chin poke posture, this allows mobility drill gets your posture back.
Tips: Start with the stiffest part first and work the above and below segments that may need some mobility.
Hamstring Mobility - Leg Lowering 2
Why do this exercise: Tight / short hamstrings can pull your lower back into a flexed posture, especially when driving with your feet on the pedals.
"Old School" static hamstrings stretches are minimally effective at best as they only take the muscle to the end of their range, this solves 25% of the tightness problems.
Leg Lowering 2 stretches your hamstrings, mobilises your nervous system (this is the #1 reason why your muscles get tight in the first place, protecting the nerves), activate your core, strengthen your hip flexors and works on your postural muscles when holding the towel.
Wow, now that is one hell of a hamstring stretch!
Rotator Cuff Trigger Point Releases
Why do this exercise: When you don't have you usual "mobility kit" handy and you start getting tight in the shoulders. You can easily replace your trigger ball with a deodorant can so you can still remove those pesky trigger points.
Equipment: Deodorant can.
Tips: The deodorant can can be slippery against the wall, don't roll too fast, nice and slow is the key.
Upper Back Trigger Point Releases
Why do this exercise: Same reason as above, when you don't have the proper equipment, improvise with the equipment you have at hand.
Equipment: Deodorant can.
Tip: Place deodorant can between the spine and the shoulder blade. Slow rolling is the key as it is prone to slip on the wall.
Avoid The Junk! Quick Nutrition Tips For Your Journey
Our in house Dietician, Ele, from www.innovadietetics.com has come up with some extremely simple tips to eat healthier on your next holiday drive.
Ele's Quick Eating Healthy Tips
Plan ahead and pack some quick healthy snacks such a fresh in season fruit like nectarines, cherries and strawberries.
Bring a cooler bag and pack water!
Make a nut mix in a quick seal bag (dried fruit and mix nuts)
That's a wrap!
As you can see the equipment you need to stay pain free with driving this holiday season is extremely easy to get and to use.
The biggest take away from this is to not take pain away with you on your holiday. You will be more susceptible to having a "flare up" if you don't get pain addressed before you head off on your trip.
If you do have pain or niggle that you would like to get treated before you holiday, click here to book yourself in with one of our Physio's so you can leave feeling great without taking any of that anxiety with you on your long awaited holiday.
Take breaks, stay safe, keep moving, happy driving!
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