Over the next several months, many of us are looking forward to packing up the car and getting out of town after the long winter! This is a particularly enjoyable time of year for most. Whether heading to the beach, cottage or campgrounds, there are many accidents and even fatalities on the roads over the summer months. So, let’s help to keep it safe.
According to the Canada Safety Council, there are many things to keep in mind before you head out over the highway that can improve your safety. Use seatbelts, drive a safe speed, and keep a safe distance between yourself and the car ahead of you. Have your car checked to make sure it is working properly. Avoid fatigue by taking regular breaks, especially if driving long distances. Last but not least, never drink alcohol, text or talk on the phone unless hands free.
Most importantly, these tips will help you arrive safely, but it would also be nice to arrive without pain. Sitting for long periods of time in one position, can increase your chances of experiencing neck or back pain, whether sitting at your desk or behind the wheel. Take the following back safe advice and arrive at your destination, ready to enjoy your holiday.
Reduce neck pain by sitting up straight. Try to relax your shoulders and keep two hands on the wheel; this stops you from slouching or twisting. If your head juts forward, gently tuck your chin, aiming to keep your ears over your shoulders. Watch out for hoods, heavy scarves and even ponytails! These items can cause your head to tilt forward, and aggravate your neck if driving long enough.
Reduce back pain by ensuring the curve in your lower back, or lumbar lordosis, is supported. This will also make it easier to sit up straight. If your car does not have an adjustable lumbar support, buy one or simply roll up a towel and place behind your back. Also remember to empty your pockets before getting in the car. Sitting on your wallet or phone can make it difficult to sit up straight; this causes unnecessary stress on the back, which may lead to pain if the drive is long enough.
Reduce neck pain, back pain or even shoulder strain buy not twisting and over reaching in the car. For instance, if bringing a heavy bag with you, open the back door and lay it on the floor. Similarly, on getting out of the car, refrain from reaching over the seat to grab your bag. Simply, get out of the car, open the back door, and carefully lift the bag. These healthy habits will save you unnecessary strain and pain on your body.
Last but not least, if you are going for a particularly long drive, take frequent breaks. As mentioned earlier, this reduces fatigue and keeps you alert. Also, walking and stretching during these breaks, helps ensure you arrive at your destination as fresh as you left.
Dr. Krista Prowse Welch, Halifax Chiropractor
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