After a cold and seemingly endless winter, we are all anxious for summer weather, and getting outside and doing things: gardening, sports, cabin fun (and work), travel, yard work, house painting and repair, and all sorts of activities that shake off the winter blues.
Those of us who are weekend warriors often don’t prepare our bodies for this change toward an active lifestyle (you gym rats are excepted), and the result is a visit to your chiropractor with sore knees, hips, backs, necks and shoulders.
Some of this pain can be avoided
There are five important tips that could help you make that transition from indoors to outdoors with less likelihood of injury or pain.
- Do warm up exercises. We have a great list of exercises for your back and neck under the “Self Care” tab of the “Chiropractic Resources” section of our website. Make them a part of your daily routine—before you exercise.
- Avoid work-related physical pain. Thanks to a complex network of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles in your lower back, it doesn’t take lifting a 40-pound bag of concrete to experience work-related low back pain. Sitting incorrectly at your keyboard could lead to tremendous neck, shoulder and low back pain. Check out our handout, “Work Related Low Back Pain” in the “Work and Children” tab of the “Chiropractic Resources” section of our website.
- Stop, Look and Listen! This adage we tell our children applies to us adults, too. Pay attention to your body. If you start to feel a strain or pain, STOP doing what you are doing and assess your situation. I give this advice especially to men, who tend to try to power through pain. Don’t. It doesn’t work and remember to ice immediately! Better to stop, ice, do some gentle stretching and give your body a day or so to recover.
- Prepare for Car Trips. Extended driving can turn the driver’s seat of your car into a torture chamber for your back. Prevention tips I frequently recommend are using your automatic lumbar support if you have it (or else a rolled up towel), changing seat positions frequently to avoid strain, sitting as close enough to the steering wheel to have your right knee comfortably bent and (men) don’t sit on your wallet!
- Heat Can Be Therapeutic. Low-impact aerobic exercises on warm summer days can be good for your back. I’m thinking about swimming and bicycling, for example. Again, don’t just power into these exercises during 100 degree heat. Think moderation: Rely on an exercise program to build strong core body muscles, and then enjoy low impact aerobic exercises. Just don’t forget regular stretching and drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration and muscle cramping!
Our summers are way too short. So I encourage you to get out there and enjoy the freedom and comfort of summer. By following these five tips, you should be able to do so without having to spend a good part of the summer in a chiropractor’s office!