As a physical therapist, I use a lot of tools to get my patients’ tissues back to normal, pain free, and mobile. Some of these tools can very easily be brought into theme parks, and I always empower my patients with the knowledge to manage their own back pain with these simple to use tools. The following tools are essential for those people with back pain who have a trip to the theme parks coming up. Remember: you need to plan for your specific pain just like you would plan the trip itself. First, we have a Lacrosse (LAX) Ball.
LAX balls are widely used to apply pressure and friction through tissues in order to increase blood flow, desensitize tissues, and break muscle spasms. You can use these on a variety of tissues, depending on where your specific problems are. The most common places my patients use the LAX ball on are the front, sides, and backs of the hips, the muscles of the lower back, and the muscles on the upper back. All you need to do is find a flat vertical surface (AKA a wall) and push your weight through the ball into the wall until you notice some tenderness. Stay on that spot for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then go searching for more tender areas. Second, a Massage Hook.
Similar to the LAX ball, this is a tool used to perform self soft tissue mobilization. The technique will be similar here, except instead of leaning against a wall, you use your hands to apply pressure into the cane and into the tissue you want to work on. There are some interesting designs for these massage hooks out there, but for the sake of easy transport, the smaller the cane, the better, as long as you can still reach the tender areas in your hips and back. Third, a Portable Massage Gun.
These “percussion massagers” help desensitize the tissues and can help normalize the muscles that may be contributing to your pain. You can use this tool easily on your quadriceps, chest, and front and sides of your hips. However, you may benefit from having a theme-park-loving friend help you use the gun on your back. A great bonding experience while you are waiting in line! These 3 tools will help you manage your back pain at the theme parks and improve your overall theme park experience. Because Pain is Not Magical.