Travel can be a pain if you don’t make a planDear Dr. Miller: Summer is almost here and we have plans to take two vacations, which will each involve a significant amount of hours driving from one point to another. Do you have any advice on how to prevent tension and aching and stiff muscles? I would also like to hear any advice you have on traveling with young children.
By: By Carl Miller, Superior Telegram
Dear Dr. Miller:
Summer is almost here and we have plans to take two vacations, which will each involve a significant amount of hours driving from one point to another. Do you have any advice on how to prevent tension and aching and stiff muscles? I would also like to hear any advice you have on traveling with young children.
Many of us have experienced the stiffness and aching muscles that go along with hours of automobile travel. Many of us also have faced the challenge of traveling with young children.
The American Chiropractic Association has several ideas to share on how to prevent travel discomfort and I will share some of them with you.
I’ll start out with some advice on traveling with children. Children who are 4- years-old or younger, or weigh less than 40 pounds, should always be in a car seat. Make sure to secure the car seat in the vehicle properly. If you have questions on how to secure your car seat safely, contact your police department and they can put you in touch with someone who can advise you.
A child who has outgrown a car seat should be strapped into a booster seat. Car seats for infants are different than those for toddlers and should always face the rear of the car. All car seats should be placed in the back seat of the vehicle especially in cars that have air bags. An air bag can kill or seriously injure a child who is seated in the front seat. Even when children have outgrown both car seats and booster seats they should still be seated in the back seat of the vehicle because of the danger that air bags pose.
When our children were younger and we had to travel long distances, we always prepared a little bag of interesting items to occupy them on the way. This included books, crayons and coloring books or drawing paper, matchbox cars or for the girls Polly Pockets. We also brought along a portable DVD player and special movies. This was a huge help on our trips.
We made sure that everything we brought with us was age appropriate. If you have very young children make sure that there are no small pieces in any of the toys that you bring that could pose a choking danger.
Even though we wanted to get to our destination as quickly as possible, we found time to stop and walk around every few hours. Sitting in an automobile for long distances can be just as uncomfortable for children as it is for us.
If you are the driver make sure to adjust your seat so that your knees are slightly higher than your hips and you are as close to the steering wheel as you find to be comfortable. Many people find that a back support helps to reduce back pain while driving. If you choose to use one make sure the widest part is between your waistline and the bottom of your rib cage.
Dr. Scott Bautch says “Prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your body.” He goes on to say that no matter how comfortable a car is, there are pressures from being in prolonged seated positions that can cause restricted blood flow. This in turn builds up the pressure in your blood vessels in your lower legs. This can be extremely uncomfortable.
Try clenching and relaxing your muscles in this area to help improve your blood flow. Try to exercise your legs during the drive. You can do this by opening your toes and counting to 10. Tighten your calf muscle and count to five as you do this. Follow this with tightening your thigh muscles. As you make sure to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel roll your shoulders back and forth. Make sure that you are not gripping the steering wheel too tightly. Vary your grip, sometimes tighter, and sometimes looser in order to improve the circulation in your hands and decrease muscle fatigue in your hands and arms. Sometimes hold the steering wheel at around three o’clock and seven o’clock and sometimes to 10 o’clock and five o’clock. This will help to minimize tension in your arms and hands.
It is also a good idea to take a walk both before embarking on a trip and after you arrive at your destination as well as periodically during your trip. During your travel be sure to take rest breaks. Fatigue is dangerous to everyone whether it is you, your passengers or even other drivers. Taking planned breaks can make any trip safer and more pleasant.
If you do experience pain or stress from prolonged travel don’t forget that your doctor of chiropractic is trained and licensed to deal with these and many other health issues.
Please send your questions and comments to Dr. Carl Miller, Lake Superior Chiropractic, 2121 E. Fifth St., Superior, WI, 54880 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.