Going on a road trip soon? Here are 4 things you must know to have a pain-free road trip. Road trips with chronic pain can seem a bit daunting. There are a lot of things to be considered from medication to stretching techniques. However, with a little preparation and a tool belt of pain relief tips, you can still have just as much (if not more!) fun on the road! Here are some helpful tips to make your road trip more enjoyable, regardless of pain:
1. Start Comfortable!
It’s important to start your trip in a position that feels right and that you can always go back to. A few recommendations include empty your back pockets, adjust your seat, and use props. Sitting on your wallet, phone, or anything else that may be in your back pocket alters your spines alignment and can ultimately aggravate back pain quite a bit. So remember to empty your pockets before getting going.
As for adjusting your seat, the most useful tactic is trial and error. Since everyone’s body is different there are no specific instructions for everyone to be comfortable. However, there are some helpful guidelines that can apply to anybody. For example, make sure your back is aligned against your seat. If you are driving, this may mean to adjust your seat to be closer to the steering wheel versus having to reach forward for it. If possible, try to align your knees to be slightly higher than your hips. This introduces the idea of props. Placing something to put your feet on for them to be proper height can help a great deal.
Also, a cushion to support the lower back’s natural curve is highly recommended due to most car seats’ lack of lower back support. If you don’t have a cushion, try a rolled up towel, scarf, or small pillow.
2. Be Prepared With a Pain Relief Kit!
Pack a pain-relief bag that includes things that will help if pain does strike. Equip yourself with an effective topical pain reliever and keep it handy. If you can, bring a cooler with you so you can have ice packs available. If not, stock up on instant cold packs that don’t need to remain chilled. Also, if your car has an adaptor for it, a heating pad can be very helpful. Similarly, you can buy some long-lasting heat wrap adhesives from a drug store and have those handy.
Don’t forget plenty of water, and if appropriate, your medicine! While it is important to prevent pain from becoming an issue, it’s just as important to be prepared for if it strikes while on the road.
3. Don’t Forget Car Health!
Getting your car checked out before embarking on a long trip can save you a lot of discomfort, even if you don’t suspect anything wrong with your car in the first place. Between your car’s shocks and the integrity of your tires, both play a major role in how smooth your ride will be.
4. Stretch It Out and Make It Fun!
Sitting in one position for too long will stiffen your muscles and can lead to pain and even potential muscle spasms. To combat this, plan ahead and find some fun stops along the way to get out of the car, move around, and stretch it out! After all most of the fun of a road trip is exploring the areas you drive through, isn’t it?
If possible, map your route so you can take a quick stop every 30 minutes or so and be sure to schedule in some fun whenever a longer break permits.
Some ideas include:
- Scope out the World’s Largest ‘Anything’
- Try out a new restaurant
- Visit a museum you haven’t been to
- Detour to a national park
- Check off different historic sites you haven’t been to yet
- Call up a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up
Above all, it is important that you enjoy a pain-free road trip and not let the possibility of pain keep you from exploring!
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