The warmer months may inspire you to get outside and be more active. While exercise is certainly a good thing both physically and mentally, increased activity also means the potential for unintentionally triggering spine-related pain. However, this doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines when days are longer and the sun is frequently shining. To safely enjoy the many benefits of warm weather, keep the following tips in mind, shared by the trusted Los Angeles spine surgeons from The Spine Institute.
Ease Back into Your Outdoor Activities
Even if you routinely handle spring and summer gardening and yard chores, getting back into everything at full speed can strain spine-supporting muscles, which is especially true if you’re normally less active when temperatures are cooler. Avoid straining muscles or triggering inflammation by easing back into your normal outdoor activities. For instance, you can:
• Spread out yardwork over several days instead of trying to do it all at once
• Gradually work your way back up to the number of miles you usually jog each day
• Stretch or take some time to practice before you play your favorite outdoor sports again
Be Cautious While Traveling
Warmer weather also means more traveling. Whether you’ll be going on road trips, sitting for hours on a plane while going to your preferred vacation destination, taking in the sights on a train or tour bus, or simply enjoying occasional day trips or weekend camping trips, don’t forget about your spine. For times when you’ll be sitting for long periods in a cramped space, make an effort to take breaks to walk around and stretch. If this isn’t possible, ease pressure on your spine by:
• Using a lumbar or neck cushion
• Performing simple neck or back stretches to prevent muscle stiffness
• Watching your posture when you have to sit for long periods
For times when traveling involves camping on the ground or sleeping on a hotel bed, plan ahead by using an air mattress instead of a sleeping bag or asking the hotel staff for a few extra pillows to place under your legs or behind your spine to maintain alignment.
Note: Gel inserts in some pillows may not be allowed on planes. Check with your airline ahead of time, or bring a different type of support pillow.
Proceed with Caution in Water
Anywhere from 500 to 700 serious spine injuries related to diving accidents occur each year in the United States. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a dip on a hot, humid day, but don’t forget to use some common sense so you don’t end up with a spinal cord or neck injury. Avoid diving into shallow water or swimming in areas where you’re not sure of the water depth or where there’s no lifeguard supervision. Be just as careful if you go swimming in the ocean or other bodies of water without clear boundaries. Take precautions while indulging in other water-related activities by:
• Wearing proper protective gear when participating in activities such as water-skiing or jet-skiing
• Taking the time to get proper instructions when trying new water activities
• Avoiding swimming strokes that stresses the neck or upper spine
Should you experience any spine-related pain while swimming, biking, or spending more time outdoors with your family and friends, take a short break to allow your body to naturally heal and recover. Applying heat or ice to the affected area can also boost circulation and reduce swelling around nerves, discs, vertebrae, and spinal joints. If taking rest, over-the-counter medications, and other self-care remedies aren’t helpful, see your doctor immediately.
Experiencing prolonged pain in your spine is not something you should wait to get checked. Get in touch with The Spine Institute if you think you might need fusion surgery or an alternative to spinal fusion. Los Angeles residents trust Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating spinal injuries. Call our office at 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.