School is out and summer is in full swing, and everyone is getting ready for road trip season. Whether you are going up to the lake house or driving to a new adventure spot, you will be spending a lot of time in your car. Not only do truck drivers and others who have long commutes have an increased risk for back and neck pain from sitting in the same position for a while, but so do us road trip lovers.
When sitting in the car for long bouts of time, our muscles tend to get tight, and with the worry of the road, anxiety can be high which makes our muscles tighten up even more. One way to make sure you stay relaxed and at ease is with massage. Massage Therapy can reduce muscle tension, decrease anxiety, increase circulation and relieve headaches. Studies have shown that 1 massage a week is enough to keep your muscles loose and tension low.
A couple tips for when you are on your trip:
Take a deep breath get a sense of where you are holding the tension and stress and try to relax. Many highways have rest stops, take advantage of them, even if it is just a couple minutes, get out of the car and walk around, you can also gently stretch your neck by bringing one ear toward your shoulder (Left ear toward left shoulder, right ear toward right shoulder).
You can also slowly look over your shoulder (right then left)
As well as rolling your shoulders by moving them up, back and down.
Our bodies are mostly water, if your muscles are hydrated then it will be easier to loosen them up, so just like you make sure you have gas in the tank, make sure you bring plenty of water for the trip.
If you have history of back or neck pain, consult your therapist with ways that you can adjust your seat, maybe a small pillow behind your low back, or adjusting your hands on the wheel so that the grip doesn’t create tension in your shoulders. Also make sure you are not far away from the wheel so that you are not reaching and rounding your shoulders forward.
Finally, our muscles act like pumps to our lymphatic system which is also our immune system and our circulatory system, so when we are not moving our lymph and even our blood is not pumping as well, so if you are a passenger, pump your ankles up and down, squeeze your glutes (butt muscles) to keep the system flowing.
Just like you get maintenance on your car before the big trip, make sure you also get a tune up for your body, whether that is seeing your massage therapist for soft tissue work or your trainer to keep those muscles moving, this way you can truly enjoy those beautiful days by the water.
Angie Gonzalez, LMT