As another school year comes to a close, students, parents and teachers alike are turning their thoughts towards three glorious months of summer break and summer get-a-ways.
However, the excitement of planning a vacation too often goes hand-in-hand with some common complaints I hear from my patients:
“I will be traveling and I’m dreading it, because my back and neck always hurt so bad!”
“It’s so hard to stay on track with my diet on the road, and my stomach pays for it for weeks!”
Your summer vacation shouldn’t be a dreadful experience but instead a time to relax and enjoy the time away. To help save you from the dreaded neck ache or stomach ache, I put together a list of my must-have items to help ease everything from your cravings to your digestion and, of course, keep your pain to a minimum.
- Travel Neck Pillow – These pillows are not just some tool to keep you from laying on your neighbor’s shoulder mid-flight. They can be used at nighttime as well. Just slip it around your neck when you lay down for bed on your guest room pillow. It will provide instant postural support for the curve of your neck. No more waking up after sleeping wrong and fretting the whole next day about how long it will take for your neck to feel better. (Tip: If you don’t have a neck pillow, you can always roll up a towel for some neck support.)
- Adrenal Support – Have you ever arrived to your destination and felt the need to sleep the whole first day because you are so fatigued from everyday stressors? Or had that post-vacation exhaustion when you know you have to get back to your daily schedule? That is usually a sign of adrenal fatigue.Your adrenal glands are two small glands located on top of your kidneys. They are involved in producing over 50 hormones that affect every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. They are most commonly known for their roles in managing stress. But when your body is in a constant state of stress, eventually your adrenals reach exhaustion and that’s when symptoms set in.
It’s important to give your body what it needs to heal and replenish the body of nutrients and minerals it needs to have good cellular function. This is even more important during vacation when not-so-healthy foods are usually consumed.The adrenal supplement I recommend is Adrenal Food, which masterfully combines all the factors needed for cellular healing. Most people feel better quickly once the adrenals are given the food they need to function properly.
- Zinc-Based Sunscreen – When looking for sunscreen, many of us understand how many UV rays each product will protect us against. Zinc-based sunscreen is a safe and natural alternative to non-zinc based options. It works by protecting you from a broad spectrum of UV rays by scattering the light away from the skin, as opposed to chemical-laden sunscreens which first attract the light, then prevent it from absorbing into the skin. Zinc is also often used to treat rashes, wounds, burns and acne, so as a bonus, your skin will be healing while you protect it!
- Tennis Ball – Have you ever found yourself sitting in your car/on a plane and suddenly a pain around your shoulder blades or low back starts to creep in? And you seriously wish your chiropractor or massage therapist was around to dig into the area and get you some relief! Enter my favorite road trip companion – the tennis ball. Stick the ball behind your back while laying down or sitting. Then find an achy spot and roll around, moving your back and arms until it feels better. It’s like a self massage. You can use this on your glutes/hips, back, shoulders, head and neck, feet, hamstrings, you name it! I never leave home without my tennis ball.
- Biofreeze – If you start feeling tight or sore, this cooling gel can help take the edge off of the pain. Using menthol to naturally cool the area and relieve pain, Biofreeze is a safe alternative to taking prescription pain medications or NSAIDs. Helpful hint: It’s best to apply this at a rest stop where you can wash your hands after applying. Make sure you don’t touch your face or any sensitive areas until after you wash your hands. It is safe to reapply Biofreeze several times a day.
- Healthy Snacks – Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to wreck your diet. For a low carbohydrate/healthy fat snack, try my favorite combo – meat, cheese, and crackers. There are plenty of healthy options on the market. Just be sure to look for organic, all natural, and high quality products with as few ingredients as possible.
- Digestive Enzymes – Your body needs enzymes to properly digest, absorb, and make full use of your food. But did you know we are all born with a certain amount of enzymes and once we use them they are gone forever?
The typical American diet is packed with processed foods and ingredients that are not easily passed through our digestive system. Aside from recommending healthy, real foods, I always recommend that my patients take a supplement for a little extra help. The Digestive Enzymes supplement helps to provide you with the enzymes you need to break down your food. This will help alleviate any IBS, Leaky Gut or Acid Reflux symptoms when taken before a meal. Especially when traveling and potentially trying new foods, you’ll want to have this supplement on hand.
- Aligning Essential Oil – This synergistic essential oil blend is one of my favorites. It contains Rosewood, Spruce, Frankincense and German/Roman Chamomile Mix and used to promote a sense of calm, peace, and relaxation. It’s also said to help build courage, confidence, and boost self-esteem. What’s there not to love about that! I like to use it after adjustments to help with all the good work we did on the spine. It can be applied topically anywhere you ache or can be diffused in your portable diffuser to give your hotel room a relaxing woodsy/floral smell.
- Bone Broth Protein – Whether it’s a quick breakfast, afternoon pick-me-up, or late night snack, flavored bone broth protein is a perfect choice for traveling. It’s good for joint health, boosting the immune system, and promoting gut health. With the added protein you will feel full, focused and ready to have fun all vacation. Simply mix it with water, coffee or any kind of milk for a convenient and quick meal.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Let’s face it, there may be times you splurge at the local restaurant or try an adventurous new cuisine. You know you may get heartburn or stomach upset, but who can say no to the delicious local spicy dishes (or whatever your culinary weakness may be)? Have no fear! Take a bottle of apple cider vinegar with you, swallow a tablespoon before each meal, and you will bypass the heartburn.
Often times we get heartburn or a stomach ache because the stomach is not at the appropriate acidic pH to break down food in a timely manner. This results in a reflux of half-digested food into the esophagus which burns and makes you miserable. The apple cider vinegar prepares your stomach environment for ideal digestion and as a bonus, it lowers inflammation throughout the body. This catch all product can be used in a vast amount of ways, including on your skin to treat burns or rashes, as a cleaning product and even for bug repellent. Feel free to get creative!
At Whole Body Health, we truly believe you can live a healthy, pain free life using natural methods to heal the body. We all follow these recommendations every day, and we know you will love them too. Safe travels this summer!
Dr. Sara Perry