Summer can be a critical time for your back. High temperatures and changes in habits in our routine are some of the main problems, so it’s a good idea to keep in mind a series of guidelines to avoid risks. Take note of these recommendations on caring for your back in the summer, from the experts at Instituto Clavel.
Sudden changes in temperature, inadequate postures, or insufficient hydration can affect the back. Incorporating simple preventive measures into your summer routine will help avoid the risk of contractures and injuries.
We associate this season of the year with family vacation, leisure and relaxation, but that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. On the contrary, during these months it is essential to take precautions to minimize the impact that high temperatures and changes in habits can have throughout the body. Learn how to take care of your back during the summer with the advice of Instituto Clavel.
1. Avoid sudden temperature changes
“The heat makes sweating increase and therefore the amount of water that circulates in our body is less. The tissues have to work in conditions of lower water intake, and those that make up the spine are no exception. For this reason, it is advisable that they are adequately hydrated, which means we must drink water and liquids frequently, especially if we are going to do intense sports practice”, emphasizes Dr. Pablo Clavel.
But if heat is one side of summer, air conditioning is the flipside, and it’s a good idea to avoid sudden changes in temperature, because it places the body in physiological stress: "in a few minutes, we make our body go through a situation from vasodilation to another of vasoconstriction without continuity solution”, warns the doctor.
The best advice is to keep the thermostat no lower than 22 degrees (72ºF) because “continuous cold on the back causes contraction of the paravertebral muscles, especially the cervical region that is usually the most exposed. Continued contracture causes pain and mechanical changes to the spinal alignment itself (kyphotic attitude or reversal of lordosis) resulting in more cervical musculature contracture and more pain. In reality, a vicious circle is created that can be very difficult to reverse."
2. Take care of your posture at the beach and the pool
On the beach and at the pool it is preferable to rest on a lounge chair or sit in a deck chair (well secured to the ground) with your back supported by the backrest. If we lie down on the towel directly on the beach or deck, "we must provide a support for the head, so that the cervical spine is not subjected to forced positions of damaging hyperextension or rotation", recommends Clavel, in addition to frequent posture changes, taking walks (very beneficial for the spine), and "above all, avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun.".
3. Take precautions when swimming
When it comes to going into the water, the neurosurgeon reminds us of the effect that sudden changes in temperature have on the spinal muscles, which is why he recommends entering the water little by little, “giving the body and muscles time to adapt to the change of temperature". And more importantly, avoid sudden dives and "certainly never head first," he emphasizes.
"We all know of traumatic injuries to the cervical spine from hitting the ground with the head, causing cervical fractures and dislocations that can be fatal". Whether jumping from the diving board or from the edge of the pool, it is important not to make sharp twists or pirouettes that "may be the origin of a cervical or lumbar disc herniation, or at least a severe contracture".
The consequences of these recreational activities are seen in the doctor's office, especially after the summer, when, according to Pablo Clavel, “we see spinal injuries caused by sports practices that we are unused to or do not practice during the year, but that we often dare to do without the necessary prior preparation”.
4. Commit to a healthy lifestyle
In addition to the more specific advice, there are other types of daily habits that we must take into account. In addition to contributing to our general well-being, these habits will also help our back to stay healthy:
- Maintain healthy eating habits and avoid excess body weight.
- Eat more fruit during the summer: high water and fructose content make it an excellent energy source for the muscles and joints of the back.
- Drink water regularly to stay hydrated.
- Don’t be sedentary.
- Warm up before practicing any sport, and stretch afterwards.
- Get enough rest so that your back can recover from the day’s activity.
Have you written everything down? On behalf of Instituto Clavel, we hope that you care for your back like it deserves and enjoy a pain free summer. If you need more information or would like to make an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can assist you in a personalized way.