Preventing Travel Back Pain
Summer is about upon us and that means vacations! Unfortunately, the travel associated with vacationing can take it’s toll on our body. Long hours on an airplane, layovers in airports or the long road trip in your car can stress your spine and muscles as well as your nerves!
Even if you are fortunate enough to travel in “first class,” pressure from long term sitting can restrict blood flow and fatigue your muscles and predispose you for increased pressure on your low back or neck. This can result in subtle misalignment of the vertebra and spinal joints resulting in pain and a ruined trip!
The following are some simple tips that may help you prevent back and neck pain while traveling.
In The Car:
- When seated in your car, adjust your seat to make sure your knees are slightly higher than your hips. This will help relax the hip and low back muscles.
- If your car does not have a good built in lumbar (low back) support, consider purchasing one.
- Consider using your cruise control often, if it is not raining. This will allow you to relax your right leg.
- Do some isometric exercises while driving: contract or squeeze your leg muscles, then slowly relax them. This will help you consciously relax your muscles.
- To reduce arm and shoulder tension, alternate holding the steering wheel at the 10 o’clock/5 o’clock and the 3 o’clock/7 o’clock positions.
- Make sure your seat is adjusted close to the steering wheel so your arms are hanging relaxed as you hold the steering wheel.
- Do not squeeze the steering wheel, keep your hand relaxed and gently hold the wheel, occasionally opening and closing your hand to keep them relaxed.
- Sit up straight in your seat, do not lean on the center console or against the door. This puts uneven pressure on the disc in the low back
In An Airplane
- Do not over pack! Re-think the items you are taking. Keep your suitcase as light as possible.
- Use proper lifting techniques with your suitcase getting them in and out of the car or placing them at the check in counter.
- Be careful how you lift your carry on to place it in the overhead bin. The aisles are crowded and people are in a hurry. It is tempting lift and twist as you throw then in the overhead compartment.
- While seated, vary your position as much as possible, shift your weight around. (But be a good neighbor and stay in your space!)
- Also, while seated, do isometric stretches for your legs. Contract your calf muscles then relax. Bend your feet up and down and stretch your toes out.
- If the flight is over a couple of hours, get up and walk for a couple of minutes.
- If your feet do not easily reach the floor when seated, consider purchasing foot rests for traveling. And With a foot rest, it helps to support your legs, relaxing your hips and low back. Travel sites like TravelSmith and Magellan’s have various inflatable or foldable ones. (Disclaimer: I have no association with these travel sites)
Following these tips can go a long way to reduce your chance of developing pain and ruining your vacation
Should you develop a problem, know that we chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat issues involving the spine, its nerves and the associated muscles. Call us at (314) 731-4383 to schedule and examination.