As the weather gets warmer, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy more activities. While this is normally a good thing, it’s not always so wonderful if you are managing back pain. Many people with recurring back pain report that summer heat and humidity makes it worse, a link supported by some scientific studies on weather, humidity, and back pain. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to sit out the summer because you’re worried you’ll have to get minimally invasive spinal surgery. Los Angeles back surgeons suggest taking some precautions with some of the summer hazards that often exacerbate back pain.
1. Road Trips and Traveling
Whether you’re going by car or plane, summer getaways often mean long periods of sitting in the same position when traveling. Sitting for too long can irritate muscles around the spine, especially in the lower back area. Further minimize travel-related back pain over the summer by:
- Lifting luggage in stages (for example, putting your bag on the seat first before lifting it into the overhead compartment on a plane)
- Bringing a lumbar support pillow for long trips
- Keeping your knees at a right angle while sitting to minimize low back strain
- Avoiding bags that are too heavy if you go shopping while on vacation
- Finding opportunities to get out of the car to stretch as much as possible
2. Changes in Sleep Habits
Longer days and more light during summer months often lead to a change in regular sleep habits. You may also have difficulty falling asleep with increased heat and humidity, or you might be sleeping in hotel beds or even in a sleeping bag under the stars. Getting sufficient sleep is important any time of the year because it allows your spine and related tissues to naturally heal. Enhance your summer sleep habits by:
- Trying not to deviate too much from your regular sleep schedule
- Calling hotels ahead of time if you need special accommodations with a mattress for your back
- Giving yourself time to wind down and relax before getting to bed
- Using blinds in your bedroom or a sleep mask to avoid distractions from light
3. Activity-Related Back Pain
Many activities that take place in the summer can place extra strain on the spine. If you’re going to be attending a child’s or grandchild’s baseball game, for instance, take a seat cushion for the bleachers. Do a proper warm-up to retain the flexibility of your back-supporting muscles if you plan to participate in any sports-related activities in the backyard. Also consider:
- Bringing a supportive chair to outdoor concerts (if allowed) to avoid sitting on the grass
- Doing hamstring stretches in advance if you’re planning a day of walking or casual strolling, shopping, sightseeing, or antiquing
- Avoiding excessive hunching while gardening, taking breaks, or getting some help from family and friends.
If you do experience weather-related symptoms over the summer, take a break from the heat and enjoy some time in an air-conditioned space. Applying ice or heat to specific areas of pain can also soothe aching muscles that support your spine and ease inflammation. Should home remedies fail to provide relief even when you’re comfortably in cooler surroundings, see your doctor. If you injure your back during the summer or any other time of the year and experience chronic pain as a result, the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute Center can help. We specialize in a wide variety of procedures, from traditional spinal fusion to laminectomy back surgery. Los Angeles patients can trust in Dr. Hyun Bae and his team to find an effective solution for relief. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.