With the summer season comes hot weather, vacations and travel. All of those activities can cause a strain on your back if you are not prepared for the sudden change in activity level that summer usually brings on. If you are experiencing back pain and would like to consult a physician, click here to contact us and schedule an appointment. Continue reading below for summer activities that bring on back pain and how you can be mindful of your back.
Summer tends to mark a spike in emergency room visits overall, something that’s been studied by The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health. People gravitate toward outdoor activities that take them out from under the blankets and into the sun. These endeavors are undoubtedly pleasant but may result in an unpleasant backache.
Summer is a time when folks start up new activities, experts say. We don’t often think of these things as activities we should prepare for physically, and so a sudden change in environment and activity can result in repetitive strain, just as though you had started a new weightlifting program.
Experts say that this is something that “goes double for the back,” since it’s at the core of so much of what we do in our daily lives. But don’t worry—you can still have a wonderful summer full of the activities you love and avoid back pain. Experts share their top summer situations that can bring on back pain and what to do about it.
Going on Vacation
For many, summer means road trips and vacations to far-flung locales. But if you have what researchers call “physical liabilities,” which can include chronic back pain, be sure to prepare. This means that it’s key to bring along any pain-relieving medications, braces, salves, or anything else that alleviates your back pain.
Also, it can help to adhere to the “less is more” adage for your travels. Researchers say, Don’t establish an overzealous vacation program or location, and, Lighten the load. It’s time to get the newer, lighter types of luggage. Also, bring less stuff. Picking up your luggage from the carousel after a flight seems like a benign task, but it can induce back pain if you’re not careful.
“Move to the end of the carousel when waiting for your luggage at the airport,” experts advise. Wait for everyone else to grab their luggage and move the pieces around so that by the time it gets to you, it’s all straight, and nothing else is in the way. Then gently reach and pick up your piece of luggage.
Additionally, just because you can bring a carry-on, it doesn’t mean you have to. Lifting bags into the overhead bin can be stressful to shoulders and backs. Instead, go with a downsized tote bag or a purse. And since you’ll naturally be walking a lot during your vacation, it’s imperative to pack good shoes.
Trying a New Sport
Tennis! Golf! Biking! There are so many sports that are ideal for summer, and maybe you’d like to try them for the first time. Even though it’s fun to try new things, it could be a recipe for disaster when it comes to your back. Studies suggest that low back pain from playing sports is common, and it can be even worse if you’re a newbie.
If you haven’t been doing a particular sport all year, and you’re suddenly taking it up, researchers suggest preparing ahead of time and avoiding jumping right in, saying, Get conditioned to the physical work and the weather. In other words: take it slow.
Taking Care of Kids or Grandkids
With the kids or grandkids out of school, you’ll have lots of opportunities to do memory-making activities with them—and a back injury shouldn’t be one of those memories. “Nowadays, grandparents are so often the trusted go-to caretakers for children in the summertime,” experts say. “You can’t wait to take care of grandkids—but everything in moderation.” If you’re babysitting, experts say that it can help to stay on the ground floor instead of navigating stairs from the basement or attic and try to avoid household chores if you can, depending on the severity of your back pain.
Moving to a New Home
Since summer is a common time for people to move, it can also be a prime time for back pain. All that heavy lifting can add up to intense pain. One 2017 study published in the International Journal of Engineering and Advanced Technology suggests that lifting heavy objects makes up the largest single category of worker’s compensation claims, resulting in 25% of all disability cases.
If you’re elderly or deal with a serious back condition, Researchers say that prep work goes beyond hiring movers. They suggest hiring someone else, like a housekeeper, landscaper, or handyperson, or a family member or friend, to help you get ready for the movers and unpack everything at your destination.
Working in the Garden
Research suggests spring and summer are when things really get cooking in the yard and garden. While you may adore working in the garden, an aching back may prevent you from doing all the gardening you’d like to do. One 2009 study observed people doing various gardening tasks, and low back pain was reported the most among participants.
Gardening brings as many patients to me as pickleball and dark, shifty stairwells, experts say. Experts recommend sitting on a bench while you garden instead of squatting and avoiding spending hours at a time in your yard. Researchers say that it also could be time for you to invest in yard products that can lighten the load, such as an electric lawnmower.