Bad roads giving you a backache?

The Asian Age.  | Kaniza Garari

Life, Health

Driving long hours also affects posture, where the driver has to sit in one position for long periods of time.

Backache is a common problem that we see among bikers, particularly due to the bad state of roads.

Endless bumpy, pot-holed roads are causing back and neck injuries to two-wheeler and four-wheeler drivers and passengers too. Dr Sanjay Desai gives some helpful advice on dealing with these health issues.

A spot of rain and the roads are riddled with potholes which make driving a very tiring experience. To add to the woes are aches and pains in the limbs, back and neck due to the bad roads where sudden jerks and emergency breaks jolt the body. Driving long hours also affects posture, where the driver has to sit in one position for long periods of time.

The city roads are a major cause for concern where driving has become a nightmare leading to injuries including muscular catches, varicose veins thanks to long periods of sitting, etc. Dr Sanjay Desai, arthroscopy and joint replacement surgeon helps explain the traumas caused by bad roads.

1. What are the problems faced by bikers on the road?
Backache is a common problem that we see among bikers, particularly due to the bad state of roads. In the monsoon, we also see an increase in limb injuries thanks to people slipping off bikes into ditches concealed by rain water.

2. What are the problems faced by drivers and passengers in four-wheelers? Driving long hours is hard on those who are 40+ and passengers too suffer from sitting for a long time
Those who travel in four wheelers are exposed to several musculo-skeletal afflictions due to bad posture and inactivity for long hours in their cars. Even those in chauffeur-driven cars are not spared the perils of long hours of inactivity in the rear seat. Inability to stretch feet for hours can also expose a person to the potentially dangerous condition of leg clots, known as deep vein thrombosis.

3. Most of us are so tired by the time we get home after the drive, we just eat dinner and directly go to sleep? Is this very harmful?
Stress at work gets compounded with the fatigue of a long commute daily, which then leads to a lack of physical activity. So it is not surprising that India is the world capital of diabetes and ischaemic heart disease in young people.

4. What is shoulder therapy and how can we follow it?
When a shoulder hurts it can indicate a deeper underlying injury. If left untreated, shoulder injuries can lead to further pain, disability, decreased quality of life, time out from work, and frustration. If you have shoulder pain, it is important to keep your shoulder joint mobile with light and gentle movements. Not using your shoulder can cause your muscles to waste away and may make any stiffness worse. You may be prescribed exercises to do on your own, or you may complete the exercises with supervision from your GP or physiotherapist. You may also have manual therapy, where the healthcare professional moves your arm for you. Manual therapy uses special techniques to move the joints and soft tissues in your shoulder.

5. What are the other home-based treatments?
Using an ergonomic chair and maintaining good posture can go a long way in protecting your lumbar spine. Simple stretching exercises, theraband and light weights can be easily incorporated in your daily routine.

6. What are the precautions that can be taken at home and in office — in terms of keeping the body fit?
Physical activity is essential for both mental and physical health. It is common in the United States to have gym facilities at work place. It has been found that taking exercise breaks at work is not only refreshing but actually increases work output. This should be adapted in the work culture in India too.

7. What is it that people must do for better fitness so that the body can cope with these bad road conditions and the health problems they create?
An appropriate diet and disciplined food habits cannot be over emphasised. Also, one of the key ways to ensure your fitness level stay healthy throughout your life is to make exercise a habit. This will allow you to continue to be active, without having to try hard to maintain your fitness level.