A few simple tips from Dr. Chris McKenzie to bulletproof your back, and ensure a pain free summer experience at the beach.

Pictured: Tom Caley, owner of East Falls Chiropractic.

Summer is here and before you know it, you’ll be heading down to the Jersey Shore for some R&R on the beach. Keep in mind that your back can use a vacation too from sitting at your desk all week.

Yes, each morning you wake up, get out of bed, shower, and get ready for work.

You bend over to put your shoes on, you bend over to kiss your significant other farewell for the day.

You bend over to put the dog leash on man’s best friend. You step up and bend forward to get into your car, or sit in public transportation, only to sit at a desk most of your day.

You bend over to pick up the kids, and maybe you had time to hit the gym where you rounded out your back while squatting and/or deadlifting.

You sit for dinner, or when getting drinks with friends, and finally you rest on the slouch…I mean couch!

Now it’s the weekend, and time to sit in some traffic as you head to the shore points.

Yikes! My back (and leg) hurt just thinking about this.

If you haven’t guessed, you are spending too much of your life sitting down and bending forward…and I can bet you aren’t doing much to bend the opposite way–which is why you get a sore back (or leg) when you sit too long, or bend forward too much.

It’s also why your back feels better once you’re standing, even better when you’re walking…but don’t do either of those too long or your back pain comes…back.

Am I describing you?

Here are 5 simple tips you can use this summer season to bulletproof your back while at the beach, and ensure a pain free summer experience.

*The key is going the opposite way of bending forward, but to do so gradually.*

Tommy shows off proper posture.

1. Posture. Good luck sitting in a beach chair with proper posture. Press your butt into the corner of where the seat back and seat meet. I recommend not sitting in a beach chair.

Lumbar roll.

2. Make a Lumbar Roll. Use a rolled up beach towel to shove in the small of your back to help maintain that nice arch you should have. Fold your towel in half, short ways, and roll it up. Use this in combination with good sitting posture.

3. Lie on your beach towel on your belly, and prop up on your elbows. If this feels good, try bending your knees to kick your butt for 20 reps every hour. Complete each rep slowly.

Hamstring stretch.

4. Hamstring stretch. Everyone who has ever had back pain was at one time told to stretch their hamstrings. Not everyone needs to, but if you ‘fit the bill’ described above, you just might. Don’t let your back round when you are doing this. Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Leave early to beat traffic. My wife and I leave around 7-7:30 and we don’t hit much traffic on our way to Avalon. Less time in the car is good! Push out the lumbar support in your car if you have it, or make a towel or sweatshirt roll, during your ride to/from the shore.

Bonus #6. Hydrate. Your spinal discs are made of water, and you’ll be sweating a lot this summer. If you don’t replenish your fluids with water, you risk flattening out those discs which can lead to more problems like degenerative disc disease and arthritis in your back. Don’t worry about amount, just drink all day long. You can always relieve yourself in the kiddie pool 😉

Keep these simple “Don’ts” in mind:
1. Pull your knees to chest to ‘stretch it out.’
2. Sit in a beach chair.

Having some back or neck pain? Stop in and schedule a free back & neck pain screen to find out what type of back problem you have. McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy. 3425 Conrad St.

About Chris

Dr. Chris McKenzie is a board-certified sports and orthopedic physical therapist, expert strength trainer, and has been an adjunct professor at Drexel University. He currently shares an office at 3425 Conrad Street with Tom Caley, of East Falls Chiropractic. For more info or to schedule an appointment, contact Chris at 267-332-8102, mckenziesportstherapy@gmail.com, or www.drchrismckenzie.com