Long drives and chiropractic care go hand in hand. When taking that cross country summer vacation do you begin to notice that if your breaks are far apart exiting, the car you feel one thousand years old? Well maybe not one thousand, but pretty close.
What happens is your spine, when erect in standing posture, is used to being in a neutral position. Sitting for extended periods of time in a car will cause your entire back with emphasis on the low back to come out of neutral. Your low back flexes or rounds out and the front of the spine including the muscles of the abdomen and chest are shortened and tightened. While this is a normal motion for your spine and your body responds resiliently to this position for short periods of time. It is not normal to be in this position for extended periods of time.
The low back becomes overstretched, tired and weak. The muscles of the upper leg play a role in this as well. With a lack of movement the leg muscles become stiff and tight reducing the flexibility of the low back. This lack of mobility will cause the body to compensate in other places for movement often in ways the body is not meant to move causing subluxation, stress on the nervous system and/or injury.
It only takes three hours to change your posture. On the long trip remember these points:
- Return to neutral. When you take a break stand up tall, roll your shoulders back a couple of times and stretch your arms overhead BEFORE you take that first step.
- Stretch the front of the body. Especially the hip flexors (front of the thigh) and chest.
- Stretch the back of the legs. Especially the hamstrings (back of the thigh)
- Move the low back through 3 types of stretches. Hyperextension (putting the back in a lightly arched position), twists and side stretches. This will help combat the chronic trunk flexion while in the car.
Last, don’t forget to get your adjustment BEFORE and AFTER your long trip. Chronic sitting can cause subluxation. Movement is life, get adjusted!