Summer vacation is a time to perform activities that aren't part of your daily routine. However, engaging in summer fun can lead to back and neck injuries, especially if you are not normally physically active. Even some relatively simple activities can pose a danger to your spinal health.
Summer activities that may lead to spinal injuries
Amusement park rides
In a quest to provide the greatest thrills, amusement park rides, especially roller coasters, are being designed with faster and more extreme twists and turns. These actions cause the neck to snap violently, causing possible whiplash or misalignment of the neck vertebra.
These types of thrill rides should be ridden with caution by older patrons and those with previous back or neck issues.
Backpacking can lead to back or neck injuries if the load is too heavy or not properly balanced. Constant pressure on the spine, or a sudden shift in the weight, may cause spinal compression or strain.
Before doing extensive backpacking, you should buy a backpack that distributes weight evenly and relieves pressure on your spine. Go to a specialty retailer with a good selection of backpacking equipment and knowledgeable salespeople instead of to a discount store.
Activities such as surfing, windsurfing, or standup paddleboarding will all present danger to your spine because of uncontrollable and possibly violent falls. Standup paddleboarding is not as stressful as the other two options, but it does require keeping your balance from a standing position, which could lead to sudden twisting to avoid falling.
Because of the nature of these activities, you can only minimize the risks of injury through practice. Know your limitations before you engage in these activities.
Less obvious sources of back pain and injuries on summer vacation
Swimming can present potential danger of injuries to the back and neck. Ocean waves can cause you to be flung violently, either while swimming or merely wading in shallow water along the shoreline. Diving into a pool or other body of water improperly can also present a danger to back and neck muscles.
Never dive into water unless you are completely sure of its depth. Broken necks, paralysis, and death can be the result from diving headfirst into shallow water.
Extended periods of driving can result in spinal compression and fatigue. Take a break every few hours to take pressure off your spine.
Lifting heavy coolers and other vacation supplies can also cause back issues. Never bend over into a vehicle to lift heavy items, and don't twist your back while lifting. Pull the items to the end of the vehicle, and lift with your legs.
The key to avoiding back and neck problems is mindfulness. While this may not come naturally, it can be developed so that it occurs without conscious thought. Unfortunately, it often takes the searing pain of a back or neck injury to instill the discipline needed to prevent spinal injuries. If you have questions about keeping your back or neck healthy, or if you have sustained an injury, talk with a chiropractor from a practice like Stroud Chiropractic Clinic so you can learn to keep yourself healthy and safe.