Summertime is always fun. The weather is gorgeous, most people take vacations, and there’s just so much to do! Unfortunately, all that fun, outdoorsy activity can come with some hidden dangers that can be a real pain in the neck and back (literally!). Here are some things to watch out for and consider if you want to minimize your risk:

• Traveling – Who doesn’t love the iconic summer vacation? The chance to go somewhere you have never been before or visit an old favorite is an irresistible lure, but go carefully! If you’re driving, be sure to stop at regular intervals and stretch those cramped muscles in your legs, and remember to lift properly when you’re toting your luggage from the car to wherever you’re staying, and back again.

• Gardening – Gardening is to spring and summer what sledding and building snow forts is to winter. It’s a lot of fun, but all that bending can take its toll on your back. Ease into it, especially if you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, and remember to take frequent stretch breaks. Also, as with traveling, be sure to use proper lifting techniques when moving bags of potting soil, seedlings and the like. Your back will thank you for it!

• Amusement Parks – Yes, believe it or not, even a trip to the amusement park can be murder on your back with all the walking and standing in line. Fortunately, most amusement parks have plenty of places to sit, so take advantage of them whenever you can in order to minimize the strain.

• Sleep – Studies have shown that we get a better night’s sleep when it’s cooler, and the summertime heat works directly against that. Each night before bed, just turn your thermostat down a degree or two to help beat the heat and get better sleep during those hot summer nights.

Whatever fun you find this summer, be mindful of your back. Taking sensible precautions will help reduce your risk of painful strains, sprains and other injuries.