If you’ve ever thrown out your back while traveling, then you’ll know it’s one of the quickest ways to ruin your holiday. Instead of waking up at dawn to hit the waves, you’re stuck in bed with pain and boredom. Although you’ll probably want to ignore the pain and get out there, it’s better to take it easy and let your back recover.
Depending on where you are and how severe the pain is, recovery might involve picking up ice packs at a local store in Costa Rica or going to find an osteopath in Melbourne. Either way, here are some well-worn steps to lead you to a fast (and safe) recovery.
1. Keep your back straight
If you think you’ve thrown out your back, it’s important to keep it in a neutral position. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your hips, and your spine feels long rather than arched.
Maintaining this neutral position can help prevent any further damage caused by twisting and turning. If you find yourself slumping forward, tighten up your core muscles to help stabilize your lower back.
2. Take a rest
Nearly all aches, pains, and illnesses require a little rest. Throwing out your back is no different. Rather than risking a new injury by bending, lifting, or twisting in the wrong way, try to reduce movement by taking a rest.
Just make sure your resting position also involves keeping a straight back. The ideal way to do it is to lie on your back on a relatively hard surface. If that’s too painful, then lay on a bed or couch but with pillows to support your back.
The key is to reduce unwanted movement.
3. Ice your back
During your straight-back rests, it can be helpful to apply a bit of ice for up to 20 minutes at a time. Whether it’s a bunch of individual cubes thrown in a plastic bag or a readymade cold pack, the important part is to let it rest near your lower back.
The healing effects of ice are pretty remarkable. Not only does it ease soreness and inflammation, but it also reduces tissue damage by slowing blood flow to the region.
4. Consider medication
No matter where you’re traveling, there are usually a host of over-the-counter medicines available at local pharmacies. Ibuprofen can provide mild to moderate pain relief alongside reducing inflammation.
You may also want to apply pain-relief gels to the affected area. If the pain persists, consider visiting a massage therapist, osteopath, or physiotherapist.
5. Slowly get back to exercising
Exercising immediately after throwing out your back isn’t a good idea. However, as time goes by, it’s important to slowly get back into an exercise routine. This will help ensure your muscles don’t become overly stiff or weak.
It’s good to start with some simple stretches or yoga for back pain. For example, lying on your back with your knees gently bent and feet on the floor can help work out some spasms. If that feels comfortable, then consider bringing up one knee for a gentle hug, then the other.
Since this routine is meant to ease you back in, it should be pain-free. If you notice discomfort, stop. Slowly but surely, your back will return to its usual pliable self, and your exercise routine will get back on board.
Although travel is often full of pleasure, it can also be full of pain – especially if you throw your back out. To make sure you don’t cause further damage, it’s best to recover safely with the steps above.