The summer is truly one of the magical times of year in the Pacific Northwest. With blue skies, sunny days and rising temperatures, there’s no better time to do your favorite summer activities. However, are some of these seasonal activities impacting your back health?

We’ll dive into a few common summer activities and conditions that may have the potential to negatively impact your spine’s health as well as discuss possible solutions to mitigate the potential harm so you can continuing enjoying the wonders of summer in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Gardening + Yard Work: Working in the garden and maintaining landscaping can be a great opportunity for physical activity and a more nutritious diet. However, if you are someone who suffers from recurring neck or back pain or are recovering from a spinal injury, try to avoid overly strenuous work sessions. Also try to give your back and neck a break by standing up or switching positions. If you’re in recovery, a medical professional and/or physical therapist may provide a recommendation for a brace for additional support.

  • Road Tripping: Summer is the perfect time for weekend escapes or long vacations. It’s also a common time to go on road trips. When driving or riding in a car for a prolonged periods of time, it’s best to schedule in some walking and stretching breaks to move your body as well as give the driver a mental break. It can also be helpful to have tools like lumbar support pillows to encourage proper posture while driving or riding in a car. July is also notoriously known as the deadliest month to drive as more automobile accidents occur during July (and summer, generally) than any other time in the year. Remember to drive safely and defensively!

  • The Blistering Summer Heat: When temperature highs are reaching the 80s, 90s and even the 100s, the last thing you want to do is put on a heating pad to soothe aching back muscles. Instead of using heat, try icing sore muscles for 20-minute increments (wrap ice packs or bagged ice in a towel; do not put ice directly on skin). The icing can help with inflammation and soreness. The summer heat may also trigger joint pain due to swelling or may intensify the feeling of pain for some people.