We love a good road trip! Sometimes the best days are spent cruising along the roads whether you’re with friends or soaking it all in solo. Being in a car for a long time, however, can result in lower back pain after road trip excursions that make you stiff and sore. Roadtrip back pain can be uncomfortable and really put a damper on the experience. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hit the road, though! In honor of summer and National Road Trip Day, we’re looking at how to reduce lower back pain after road trips to keep the fun rolling.
Relieving Lower Back Pain After Road Trip Adventures
Each year, the Friday before Memorial Day is officially National Road Trip Day (#NationalRoadTripDay) and kicks off the summer road trip season! Recent polls have shown that the post-pandemic world is alive with desire to travel and explore, with almost 80% of travelers reporting their intent on taking a road trip. Besides, what’s more fun than popping on a great playlist and cruising all over the place with friends, family, or even by yourself?
The only downside to long drives is road trip back pain. Sitting in a car for hours at a time puts excess pressure on the lower back and pelvic areas, making it more susceptible to being stiff and sore when it’s time to get up. To keep from dampening the experience, learn how to reduce lower back pain after road trip adventures with things like:
- Consider car accessories to help with ergonomics
- Make sure you’re comfortable in the car
- Get up and move around every so often
- Don’t forget cold and heat therapy
- Get a massage after a road trip
- Support your feet during your road trip
Road Trip Car Accessories
Starting off our list of ways to reduce lower back pain after road trips is being prepared with car accessories for support. There are a wide variety of car pillows, memory foam seat cushions, and more that can make your drive more enjoyable and help prevent road trip back pain later. What you’re really trying to do here is practice good road trip ergonomics!
Get Comfortable for Road Trip Adventures
Speaking of road trip ergonomics, learning how to reduce lower back pain after road trips is more than just popping in a cushion and going on your way. One of the most effective ways to reduce road trip back pain is to ensure your seat is in the optimal position for a long drive, as well. Whether you’re driving or a passenger, road trip posture is crucial.
For example, one method to reduce lower back pain after road trips is to fight the urge to recline your seat too far. We love feeling comfortable, but you don’t want to be paying for it dearly later! Instead, your seat back should be placed just beyond upright from 100 to 110 degrees. If you’re driving, you also want to make sure you’re within an easy arm’s reach of the steering wheel to avoid having to reach for it, leading to a hunched back or shoulders that can contribute to road trip back pain later.
Break Road Trips Down Into Sections
Another easy way to reduce lower back pain after road trips is to break your adventure down into more manageable sections and get up to stretch and move around periodically. If you’ve ever sat in a chair too long and felt sore and stiff when you stood up, the same principle applies.
Instead of condensing your road trip into immensely long hours, consider breaking it up into smaller legs of your trip. You can find fun things to do along the way that keep your road trip fun and avoid excess pressure on the spine from spending all day in the car for days at a time and go a long way to avoiding road trip back pain.
Road Trip Stretches to Stay Loose
To avoid road trip back pain, make sure you’re stopping taking at least a 15-minute break for every 2 hours of driving. If you’re finding that you experience lower back pain after road trip adventures more easily, up those break periods to every 30 to 60 minutes to get up and stretch your back and legs. Simple exercises during these breaks help keep your blood circulating and your muscles loose.
More than just stopping for breaks to avoid lower back pain after road trips, you should also consider ways to shift in your seat as you’re riding along in order to keep your body from settling too much. Even 10 seconds of movement and stretching in your seat is better than sitting still for long periods of time. Adjust your seat every 15 to 20 minutes, pump your ankles to keep blood circulating through your extremities, and try to slightly stretch your hamstrings to avoid seizing up and causing road trip back pain.
Cold and Heat Therapy for Lower Back Pain After Road Trips
A tried and true method for how to reduce lower back pain after road trips is with alternating cold and heat therapy. Each method holds value to alleviating road trip back pain and keeping you loose as you continue your trip. Whether you take options along the drive or use these treatments after you’re home, they’ll keep you ready for your next road trip at all times!
Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and swelling, which are major factors for lower back pain after road trips. It’s easy to take cold compresses with you on a road trip, as well, if you’re expecting a multi-day journey. Easily stored in a cooler, you can prepare your cold compress before your trip and keep it ready in the trunk at a moment’s notice.
The benefits of heat therapy, conversely, help increase blood flow and relax the muscles. This goes a long way for treating road trip back pain and is an absolute must. Heat therapy is broken into two categories: dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat therapy includes tools like heating pads, heat lamps, and massage chairs with heat therapy features. Moist heat therapy, then, is made up of heat therapy options like a warm bath, a sauna/hot tub, gel packs, or using warm damp towels. To reduce lower back pain after road trips, tools like a luxury massage chair with added heat therapy features will have you ready for your next trip in no time.
Getting a Massage After a Road Trip
The perfect segue from heat therapy, next on our exploration of how to reduce lower back after road trip adventures is getting a massage! Studies have recognized the potential for massage to alleviate lower back pain, making them an ideal self-care practice to alleviate road trip back pain.
Having regular massage appointments can be both time-consuming and expensive, however, as the costs add up without end. As an alternative to traditional appointments, many road trippers have turned to the benefits of owning a massage chair, instead. A full body massage chair provides you with the benefits of massage therapy at home, on your schedule, in private, and for a singular investment. The evolution of massage chairs to offer options like 3D vs 4D massage chairs and different frame styles (S-track vs L-track) give road trippers choices to meet their exact needs.
With different types of massage programs and other massage chair features like heat therapy, chromotherapy, and zero gravity position reclining, modern models have not only eliminated any difference between using a massage chair vs human massage, but improved on it. You can even find AI massage chairs that use two types of body scanning technology to analyze your body and deliver a customized experience each use!
Massage chairs are not only effective for how to reduce lower back pain after road trip adventures, but also work as recovery tools for athletes, to promote joint and muscle health, as well as keeping your spine healthy as you age. They’re the perfect tool for practicing essential self-care in your daily life all year round.
Support Your Feet During Road Trips
Last, though certainly not least, on our exploration of how to reduce lower back pain after road trips is making sure you support your feet. While you may not have considered it, ensuring your feet are supported can go a long way to preventing road trip back pain.
Supporting spinal health from the ground up, your feet should be placed on a firm surface and at the right height to avoid transferring stress to your lower back. This means not having them on the dashboard (which is actually dangerous anyway, so avoid doing that regardless) and keeping them flat on the floorboard of the car while you cruise along. This positioning keeps your knees at a right angle and prevents excess pressure from exerting force on your spine, which is what leads to lower back pain after road trips.
As many of today’s vehicles offer options to adjust seat height, make sure you’re set up properly and enjoy your road trip without worrying about paying for it with road trip back pain later!
Whether you’ll be celebrating National Road Trip Day this year or plan to take some adventures this summer, learning how to reduce lower back pain after road trips is key to enjoying them to the fullest. Practice the tips we’ve given you and see the difference they can make! Even the simplest things like adjusting your seat or choosing a massage chair to use at home help take care of your back and keep you on the road. Be safe and have fun!
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