Spine Safety on Roller Coasters!
By Sara Butler
Remember when you were young and it seemed like you could spend hours riding roller coasters without any side effects? Those days are probably long gone, and even if you still enjoy the theme park thrills in the summer you have to take precautions to protect your neck and spine. It’s no secret that some roller coasters are your spine’s worst nightmare, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. Here’s what you need to know about roller coasters and things you should do to protect your body and be kind to your joints.
Why Rides Can Be Painful
You’ve probably seen the signs warning roller coaster riders with back and neck pain not to ride. It really goes beyond simple trauma to your spine, though. Roller coasters can cause damage to your neck and back, but also to your bones, ligaments, muscles and other soft tissues. What else can you expect from rides that forcefully toss your body around, quickly changing directions and just generally wreaking havoc? This is why you must be extra careful if you have a known back or neck problem and make good choices for the health of your spine.
If you have a history of disc problems in your back especially, such as a herniated disc, the movements associated with thrill rides at amusement parks can lead to pain and even create new injuries. If you have arthritis, the extension of the spine that happens on some rides where you are thrown back and forth can make arthritis pain worse too.
If you look at a ride and think it seems safe and slower than the others available, you should still exercise caution. Any kind of sudden movement, no matter how small, can cause muscle spasms, especially if you’re already sore or tense.
What You Can Do to Prevent Injury
You really should discuss any plans for amusement park thrills with your chiropractor before you go. They will most likely encourage you to follow the basic principles of spine health such as:
- Stretching regularly
- Strengthening exercise
- Proper hydration
If you can stretch out before you go on a ride it can loosen any tight muscle and reduce the risk you may be at for muscle spasms, which can put a real damper on an otherwise fun day. If you do experience a flare-up of a pre-existing condition of you neck or spine, you can also use ice therapy to help reduce any pain you may experience.
If you have any questions about riding thrill rides or you need more advice on keeping your spine healthy, talk to your chiropractor about it during your next adjustment at The Joint Chiropractic!