Taking Care of Yourself in a Car

It’s that time of year again. The time of year where school starts, which means sports, clubs, programs, and extracurricular activities are starting as well. This also means more time in and out of the car, helping the young ones get in and out, and lifting the babies in car seat carriers in and out. All of it adding up to stress on your body, specifically your low back.
There are many ways you can start feeling back pain in the car. So when can you get the pain and how can you prevent it?

Sitting for long periods
Sitting in the car where your lumbar spine is in a “flexed” position is a large proponent of low back pain. You may get this by driving long periods or by simply sitting in the car waiting to pick someone up/drop them off.
When the lumbar spine is put in more of a “flexed” position, meaning the spine is more curved, the low back can get very painful. To help ease or prevent the pain, use a lumbar support in your car. The easiest way is to roll up a towel, tape it together, and set it in the small of your back against the seat of the car. This helps create more “extension” or arching of the back, restoring the spines natural curvature.
Many of you may say, “My car seat has a built in lumbar support,” or “I can increase the lumbar support in my seat.” Yes, you may be able to do this and have no issues. However, there are cases when the seat does not provide enough and the towel works better. There are also instances in which you “cannot feel” the lumbar support. In this instance you need to look at your posture, which brings us to our second point.

Poor posture
Poor posture can also contribute to low back pain. The next time you are driving and you come to a light, become aware of your posture. Are you slumped forward? Are your shoulder blades are touching the back of the seat? Is your low back is rounded? And are you slumped to one side resting on the door or the center council? If your answer is yes to one or more of these, your posture needs to be fixed.
Starting with a good lumbar support, such as a towel roll or increasing the air in the seat to its max, you can sit in the seat making sure you feel your low back beginning to arch. If it is exaggerated, then it is too much. Next, check to make sure your shoulder blades are touching the seat as well. At this point you can grab the steering wheel with arms high or low whichever is more comfortable. Your head should also be upright and not leaning forward. Below is a good picture of what to avoid and what you should look like.

Getting kids in and out of the car
Those of you struggling to get your toddlers in car seats and lifting the infant carriers into the base may have other low back issues.
When lifting young toddlers into the car, make sure you are bending at your knees, keeping your back straight, and engaging your core. When you use your legs to lift, you are taking pressure off the lumbar support and using your core to lift helps to protect the low back.

This picture shows exactly what you want to do, the knees are bent, the back is straight, and the core is engaged. After squatting down, you can pick up your child and use your legs and core to stand back up. Once you pick up your child, make sure to keep the child close to you. You can then transfer the child to the seat and buckle them in. If you have to bend over to buckle the child in, make sure you are bending at the knees slightly and engaging the core. We call this a “hip hinge”.

Notice just the slight bend in the knees, back is straight, core is tight and engaged, and she can reach her arms out to perform an activity, specifically buckling in your toddler.
“What do you mean by ‘engaging your core?’” you might ask. The muscles of the core consist of more than just the “6-pack”, the rectus abdominis. While this muscle may be appealing, it doesn’t do much for stability since its primary role is to curl the trunk. Contracting the spinal stabilizers, particularly the transversus abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle) is the key to spine stability and truly engaging your core.
To practice, lie on the floor and place your fingertips one inch above your hip bones and one inch in towards your navel. Continue to breathe normally as you draw your navel in towards your spine and up towards your ribcage and then slightly bear down, imagine lowering the navel towards the floor. You should feel your abdomen tighten; you may feel like you’re on the verge of laughing or coughing. Another way to think of engaging your core is to imagine you’re bracing yourself for a punch in the stomach. After getting the idea of it laying down, you are now ready to do it in any position!
You are now ready to “engage your core” while lifting and buckling in your child!

Fussing with Car Seats
What about low back pain when lifting those heavy car seat carriers and clicking your infant into the car?
Just as before, you will want to bend your knees and “squat” down to pick up the car seat, engaging your core and keeping your back straight. When doing this, grab the car seat at the bar with the crease in your elbow rather than with your hand, then turning your hand over you can grab the side of the car seat. This will help you get more leverage to lift and keep the load closer to your body, not to mention it puts less strain on your shoulders and upper back/neck as well! Once you get to the car, make sure you get as close to the base in the seat as you can. You are then able to use your free hand to hold the bottom edge of the car seat and lift using both arms to click in the seat. Don’t forget to check your core again before attempting to lift and place the car seat in the base. This will ensure your back is protected as you reach more in front of you.

When doing these tasks over and over in one day, it can get taxing on the low back, however, now you should be able to protect yourself better with correct posture, correct form, and engaging the core.

Back to School Without Injury from Backpacks

With back to school being just around the corner it is important to make sure your child has a healthy start. When buying your child’s backpack there are several tips you need to know to help prevent injury to your child’s shoulder, neck, or back. One of the most important tips is the weight of the backpack.

Did you know?
It is recommended that a child only carry 10 to 15% of their body weight in their backpack?
Examples: 40 pound child = 6 pound backpack max
60 pound child = 9 pound backpack max
80 pound child = 12 pound backpack max
100 pound child = 15 pound backpack max

If your child is carrying more than the recommended weight then your child is more prone to injury. The excessive load can create a force to your child’s spine that will make him/her compensate and compress the spine unnaturally, leading to potential shoulder, neck and back pain.

There are several causes of shoulder, neck and back pain with carrying backpacks. Some possible cause are:
• Wearing backpacks over just one shoulder
o This can cause the child to lean to one side to offset the extra weight
• Too heavy of a load
o Leads to poor posture and excessive load to spine
• Backpacks with tight, narrow straps
o Straps can dig into the shoulders and interfere with circulation and nerves -may result in tingling, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands
• Backpack doesn’t fit child properly
• Lifting backpack improperly
When you go out to buy your child’s backpack this summer consider the following tips before your purchase:
1. Start with a lightweight backpack made of lightweight material.
2. Make sure the shoulder straps are wide and padded. Wide, padded straps provide support and prevent the straps from becoming too tight or digging into your child’s shoulders. The straps should be snug, but not so tight that they cause discomfort.
3. The back should also be padded. Padding that sits against your child’s back will provide additional support and prevent discomfort.
4. Look for a backpack with a waist strap. A waist strap holds the contents closer to your child’s back, which will decrease the load and help him or her maintain balance.
5. Multiple compartments are a plus. If your child’s backpack has multiple compartments, it will be easier to evenly distribute the weight of the items inside. The heaviest items should be packed low and toward the center of the bag.
6. Both straps should be worn at all times. Make sure your child is always wearing both straps. Wearing both straps can also help distribute the weight more evenly and prevent your child from leaning to one side.
7. Do not overload! Remember the backpack should be no more than 15% of your child’s body weight. Anything more than that can force children to slouch or hunch to compensate for the extra weight. Remove any items that are unnecessary, and encourage your child to carry heavier items in their arms, if possible.
8. Make sure the backpack is the correct size for your child. The backpack should not be wider or longer than your child’s torso and should not hang more than 4 inches below his or her waist.

It is important as parents that we educate and instruct our children in backpack safety. Involve your child by weighing your child and then weighing the backpack. Figure out together what 15% of their body is. Then show them what that weight feels like in a backpack so they can understand what too heavy of a load is and how it can vary with the fit of the backpack. Encourage your child to use their locker throughout the day instead of carrying the entire days worth of books in the backpack. Help prioritize with your child items that are needed to be carried in the backpack vs. items that can stay home or be left at school. Instruct your child in how to pick up their backpack. As with any heavy weight, they should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands bringing their backpack close to their body when lifting a backpack to the shoulders.
We hope you found these tips helpful and help you get off to a healthy start to the school year!


7 Backpack Safety Tips

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is crucial to a person’s mental and physical health. When you sleep, you allow your body ample time to heal and repair for what’s to come the next day. Your body needs that time to rest and recharge. When we don’t get enough sleep, you will begin to experience a variety of unpleasant side effects. If your body becomes deprived of sleep for long periods of time, it becomes extremely dangerous to your health.

The Importance of Sleep

It’s important to know that your body goes through 5 stages of sleep. Each stage of sleep is vital to ensure you wake up feeling rested. When even one of those stages is interrupted, you will notice negative side effects the next day.

According to Tuck.com, A complete sleep cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes, with each stage lasting just 5 to 15 minutes. Stages 1-4 are non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and stage 5 is REM sleep. “REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used in learning. This may be important for normal brain development during infancy, which would explain why infants spend much more time in REM sleep than adults. Like deep sleep, REM sleep is associated with increased production of proteins” (psychcentral).

Without adequate sleep, you may experience some of the following troublesome symptoms:

  • Trouble remembering things
  • Negative moods, quick to anger or become irritable and more emotional
  • Weight gain due to increased appetite
  • Weakened immune system

In order to get a good night’s rest, we must eliminate as much stress as possible. Setting a nightly routine can be very beneficial in doing so. Below are some tips you could try implementing into your nightly ritual to help ensure better sleep.

  • Set a bedtime. Start by figuring out what time you need to get up in the morning and how many hours of sleep you need to properly function. Below are the recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation.

  • Set a time you want to start winding down. This should be at least 2 hours before you plan on getting into bed.
  • Make sure your meals are packed and prepared for the next day. Prepare coffee for the following morning, breakfast, water bottles, lunches, and have a plan for dinner.
  • Make sure all of your normal chores are done. The dishes are done and the sink is empty, no laundry is left in the washing machine, any clean clothes you have washed are folded and put away. Do a quick reset around your home. Taking care of the clutter makes for a more peaceful environment when trying to wind down. You will be able to relax and wind down without being stressed about the chores or clutter you have piling up around you.
  • Lay out your clothes for the next day to avoid rushing around and stressing because you can’t find what you need.
  • Try not to drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal or snack too close to bedtime as that will have a negative effect on your sleep pattern.
  • Do something that relaxes you. Things like sudoku, reading, word searches, crosswords, solitaire, etc. are great things to do before bed. Try to avoid watching TV when trying to go to bed. The light from the TV will affect your sleep pattern and if you’re watching something you really enjoy and want to pay attention to, chances are you’ll stay up later. It’s suggested to turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime and avoid any bright lighting.
  • Try putting on lotion with soothing scents.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature.
  • Have a warm cup of tea. Try Celestial’s Sleepytime tea.
  • Try yoga or stretching before bed to relax your body and your mind. If you’ve never tried yoga before, try the simple yoga sequence below or give one of our Thursday night Yoga classes a try! Click the image below to access a free printable!

Which tips will you try to implement into your nightly routine? Do you have any useful tips? Feel free to share them with us!

You can actually lose brain tissue after just one night of sleep deprivation?
– The Huffington Post
When you fall asleep while overthinking, the mind remains active as if you were awake which is why you tend to wake up tired.
– ThePsychMind.com
If you feel tired even after a good night’s sleep, you may be dehydrated. Drinking water can help you wake up.
– ThePsychMind.com


3 Most Common Golf Injuries

I. Elbow Pain – commonly known as “Golfer’s Elbow”

What is it?
Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) causes pain and inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. The pain centers on the bony bump on the inside of your elbow and may radiate into the forearm.
What causes Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow can be caused by an acute injury or an overuse injury. Most often, golfer’s elbow is the result of an overuse condition where a specific activity performed many times causes a chronic irritation to the tendon. Golf is one common cause of these symptoms, but many other sport and work-related activities can cause the same condition.
How can you treat Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is a problem that may heal with simple treatment. Treatment is rarely surgical, as this condition is well managed with a little rest and proper rehabilitation.
Lifestyle Modification – Lifestyle modification is important if golfer’s elbow does not resolve or if it recurs. With golfers, often a change in technique a change in equipment, such as a different size grip, can help to resolve the problem.
Changing Swing Mechanics – Golf clubs should be sized properly, including grip size. Swing mechanics should be evaluated to ensure patients are swinging properly. See a golf pro/instructor for a swing and club evaluation. Usually, the development of golfer’s elbow is a sign there is something wrong with the swing that can be addressed.
Anti-inflammatory Medications – Anti-inflammatory medications are often used to help control pain and inflammation. The oral forms of these medications are easy to take, and often help control the inflammation as well as manage the pain associated with golfer’s elbow.
Cortisone Injections – If these conservative measures fail, a steroid (cortisone) injection is a reasonable option. If a person has tried more than two cortisone injections without relief, it is unlikely that additional injections will benefit the patient.
Stretching & Exercises – Some simple stretches and exercises can also be helpful in controlling the symptoms of golfer’s elbow. These exercises should not cause pain, and if they do the exercises should not be done until the pain resolves. By strengthening the muscles and tendons involved with golfers’ elbow, you can help prevent the problem from returning.
Here are the most common stretches to perform to help alleviate the pain and stretch the muscles involved:

Passive Wrist Flexion/Extensor Stretch

With the elbow straight with palm down, use opposite hand to pull wrist back.

Passive Wrist Extension/Flexor Stretch

With elbow straight and palm up, pull wrist back using the opposite hand

If conservative measures do not help relieve the pain, consider Physical Therapy. We do a technique called Astym ® which specifically helps to heal the soft tissue in the muscle with overuse injuries. You can click here for more information and how it may help you: www.Astym.com

II. Shoulder Pain

What kind of shoulder issues can you have with golf?
The most common shoulder injuries with golf are:

Labral tears – Tearing and/or fraying of the cartilage ring around the socket of the shoulder joint
Rotator cuff tears – Tear of one of the 4 muscles (most commonly the supraspinatus) that make up the rotator cuff
Tendonitis – Inflammation of the supraspinatus muscle tendon
Impingement – pinching of something between two bones.

What can cause these injuries?

Shoulder injuries can be a combination of overuse and poor form which can cause inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons. Weakness in the rotator cuff muscles as well as poor posture may also attribute to the injuries.

How can you treat shoulder injuries?
The best way to treat shoulder injuries is strengthening, stretching, and posture changes. Below are some of our favorite rotator cuff exercises as well as posture exercises and pec stretches.


While holding an elastic band at your side with your elbow bent, start with your hand near your stomach and then pull the band away. Keep your elbow at your side the entire time.


While holding an elastic band at your side with your elbow bent, start with your hand away from your stomach, then pull the band towards your stomach. Keep your elbow near your side the entire time.


Anchor the bands in front of you at waist height as shown. Begin with your arms straight in front of you, and pull your elbows next to your body, squeezing your shoulder blades. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.


While holding an elastic band with both arms in front of you with your elbows straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull the band back. Be sure your shoulders do not raise up.


Upper arms should be parallel to ground. Don’t hyperextend low back. Shoulder blades should be down back and together. Lean forward to feel a stretch in the pecs. Can move arms up or down to get a different stretch of the pecs


Laying on your side, keep your hips stacked and rotate your upper body so your arm is flat against the bed/floor.

III. Low back pain

Low back is the most common golf injury, not surprisingly.

What can cause the low back pain?

The repetitive action of the golf swing is the number one cause of low back pain in golfers. A ‘Reverse Angle’ swing fault is a common cause of back pain that occurs when the spine deviates from the vertical during the swing.
Numerous structures of the lower back can be affected – the discs, ligaments, muscles or Facet joints – but in golfers, particularly older ones, the discs are most commonly affected. A herniated disc or ‘slipped disc’ refers to a protrusion of gel material from inside the disc. This can cause back pain and / or Sciatica, particularly when bending forwards.
Weakness in the core and hips as well as decrease flexibility of the hamstrings, hip flexors and tight rotation can also cause more strain on the lumbar spine with the repetitive motion of swinging.

How can you treat the low back pain?
Correct any faulty swing you may have. Are you compensating because you are tight or because of weakness? If so, this compensation needs to be address and corrected.
The most beneficial treatment is doing core strength and stability exercises. This can help decrease your pain as well as prevent future injuries. Here are a few core exercises to get you started.


Lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, arch your low back and then flatten it repeatedly. Your pelvis should tilt forward and back during the movement. Move through a comfortable range of motion.


While lying on your back, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor/bed as creating a “Bridge” with your body. Hold and then lower yourself and repeat.

Hip Hinge Level 1

Stand holding a rod (or your golf club) in contact with your spine. Try to maintain the same points of contact as you squat down. Your butt should go backwards as you squat down and your knees should flex but SHOULD NOT move forward. Keep your stomach engage to keep your back as flat as you can.

Stretching before and after is also very beneficial. Below are some stretches you can do right at your golf cart warming up.

Hip Stretch:

Standing with one foot on cart. Place club behind back and bend forward on front knee. Lean into front leg and rotate trunk toward same leg. Repeat for other leg.

Trunk/Shoulder Stretch:

Standing in backswing position. Hold club at each end. Rotate further into backswing to feel stretch in chest, hip, trunk, and back of shoulder. Repeat for other side.

Hamstring/Chest Stretch:

Standing with one foot on cart, hold club behind your back. Raise arms up behind you as you lean chest toward extended leg. Should feel stretch in hamstring and chest/arms.

References: www.hep2go.com; www.verywellhealth.com; www.physioroom.com