Whether staying locally in Dallas, Texas or driving across the nation….if you are hitting the road this summer for vacation, the last thing you want is your sweet time to be interrupted by pain. We often hear complaints of people with neck pain while out of town, especially now that people are more likely to road trip than to hop on a plane.
Some complaints we frequently hear sound like this, “Our family was out of town this weekend, and I woke up with a tired, stiff neck. I thought it would go away on its own, but it’s still here, even after being home for a week.” Aches and pains shouldn’t interpret your precious relaxation time.
Here are 6 ways to avoid neck pain when traveling this summer:
#1: Be aware of your sitting posture
We can only hope that you’re road tripping in a fun vehicle, like a convertible or Jeep Wrangler. While sitting down, make sure you’re sitting on the “sit bones” and not slouched forward. Your back and shoulders should be stacked over your pelvis to allow your neck muscles to provide good support with the least amount of effort to work against gravity.
#2: Don’t look down too much
Sitting passenger, you’re tempted to spend your time scrolling on the phone or reading a book. However, we encourage you to avoid looking down when you can. Your neck is made for holding the head upright, not forward in a “tech neck” position. This bad posture over time can lead to muscle imbalance and stiffness of the neck. In fact, one of the most common complaints at Progressive Pain & Interventional Psychiatry due to neck pain results from “tech neck.”
We recommend holding reading material or hand-held devices up at eye level to avoid potential strain on the neck. Better yet, recline the chair back and relax while listening to music or a book on audio.
#3: Bring your own pillow
After resting for hours on an unfamiliar pillow, we can easily wake up with stiffness in our neck. When we’re at home, our bodies become accustomed to resting in a specific position. By bringing your own pillow, you will get a much better (and much needed) night of rest, no matter the quality of the mattress, if your neck is resting in its normal position.
#4: Be careful when carrying luggage
While carrying luggage, it’s ideal if they wheel or you can use a backpack. If not, switch shoulders frequently when carrying a bag. Carrying a hefty object (yes, gals, this could be your purse) on one side will only cause muscle imbalance in the shoulders, neck, and back. As always, ensure your posture is symmetrical to prevent overuse and repetitive injuries.
Pro-tip: Ask yourself, “Do I really need to bring this?” Packing light so that your bags are not incredibly heavy will dramatically help!
#5: Bring back support
Long car rides make our whole bodies ache, but when you bring something to support the back, it might surprise you how much it helps with the pain and fatigue, especially in the neck. Grab a towel, roll it up and place it at the arch of your back for some affordable lumbar support. This tip will prevent the body from falling into a “C” shape position, which increases the strain of the neck muscles.
Spend a little extra time preparing for your summertime trip by making strategic choices while packing, and you’ll help prevent neck pain from tagging along during your summer vacation. If your neck pain does not go away long after your trip, we want you to know there are options available. The dull achy pain to intense pain doesn’t have to affect your quality of life. Give us a call at (214) 441-7322 to schedule a detailed evaluation or book your appointment online today. We’ll have you enjoying the rest of your summer in no time.