If you’re looking for a reason to go on a vacation this year, add this one to the list: it’s good for your back.
Why is vacation good for your back? Because it addresses three of the reasons that your back hurts.
First, one of the most significant contributors to back pain is stress. And not the type of stress that is a major event that causes a big stress response and demands some type of response. No, the way that stress leads to back pain is those daily pain-in-the-neck stressors like commuting to work, getting both you and the family out of the house in a timely manner day after day, or dealing with the daily frustrations of the workplace.
Vacation gives you a complete break from these daily, cumulative stressors. Since the most effective stress management technique is to eliminate the stressor, the vacation meets this need perfectly. And, sometimes, when returning to work after the vacation, those daily irritants don’t seem so bad after all.
Second, since many of our daily work lives involve a lot of sitting, vacations can be a great break from sedentary life and the introduction of an increase in daily movement. Even a “staycation” can fit the bill if you decide to stay home and do those fun local activities that your schedule doesn’t normally allow.
For many of us, vacation time is much more active than our daily lives, and that’s good for your back. One of the primary reasons that we see more back pain each year, particularly in industrialized countries, is that we don’t have enough daily movement to keep our spines and the muscles of our torso healthy. They get tight and weak, and we feel it in the pain in our backs. Vacations are great for breaking this pattern, moving more, and moving in a variety of ways, resulting in a healthier back.
And lastly, when we vacation, whether it’s with our family, friends, or venturing out on your own, you’re connecting with people. This may not seem like something that affects your back, but it’s a well known stress reduction tool to connect with other people and build your circle of social support.
- Take frequent breaks on days with long car rides. Highway rest areas are great places to take a short walk and enjoy being outside. You may even want to do a few stretches or pack your yoga mat.
- Try to stay away from “pseudostressors” that can lead to inflammation and unnecessary muscle contractions. These include processed foods, caffeine, and sweets.
- If you’re feeling stress build on your trip – and let’s face it, sometimes travel can be stressful – take a slow, deep breath, and consciously relax your muscles as you gently exhale.
So, enjoy your time off and remember – vacation is good for your back!
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Copyright © 2015-2016, Mary A. Williams, Corporate Health Alliance/BACKCoach. All rights reserved. This article was originally published in the August, 2015, issue of Healthy Cells Magazine.