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Summer-ish weather and cheap(er) gas add up to ROAD TRIP!  With the warmer weather, we’ve already made some runs up the Red Arrow Highway into Southwestern Michigan. Soon more and more of us will be getting out of Dodge to de-stress and visit friends, families and see more of this great country. We’ve compiled some tips for healthier, more comfortable travel.

  1. Adjust your seat, headrest, and mirrors. This recommendation is particularly important to prevent driver fatigue, but is also necessary to properly support the spine and minimize injury in a collision. First, adjust your seat so that you are comfortably able to keep both hands on the wheel and operate the pedals with your back fully against the seatback. Second, the top of the headrest should be even with the top of your head. This is vitally important to reduce the chance of serious injury during front and rear collisions. Next, while sitting with your back against the seatback and head against the headrest, adjust your mirrors so you can see outward in this fully supported position.
  2. Drink water. This ubiquitous recommendation is especially important in all types of travel because traveling promotes dehydration. Downside: You’ll have to stop at the rest area more often. Upside: You’ll automatically comply with item 6!
  3. Open the windows. You’ve probably heard that the air inside your home is more polluted than the air outside. What kind of air do you think is circulating in the cabin of your car with 2 or more people and perhaps a pet?!! Even if it’s hot or a little chilly, open a window for a minute or two to get fresh air into your car. 
  4. Put away the phone and/or tablet. There’s a lot to see outside that’s far more interesting than another story about another celebrity. Plus, the head down posture added to the vibration from the road will leech the water content out of the discs in your neck, leading to stiffness, pain, and spasm.
  5. Consider a neck pillow. If you’re going on a particularly long drive, or you’re one of those people who fall asleep quickly when riding in a car, consider a wrap around neck pillow to keep your head from falling forward or to the side. The last thing you want is waking up with a “kink” in your neck.
  6. Hit the breaks! Take the time to get out of the car, stretch, and walk around every 2 hours. This will prevent some of the muscle stiffness and static strain that comes from prolonged sitting and immobility. Movement also helps lubricate your joints and keep your discs hydrated.
So, hopefully these tips will make your next road trip more comfortable and enjoyable. If you find yourself wandering into Southwest Michigan, don’t pass up the Swedish bakery in Harbert (cash only) or the Whistle Stop for a coffee (both on the Red Arrow Highway, Route 12)!