When traveling, you may often feel neck pain or lower back pain caused by long hours of sitting in a car or plane or sleeping in a hotel bed that’s uncomfortable for you. Traveling becomes extra challenging when you have musculoskeletal issues or conditions because you’ll be away from familiar home environments and accommodations.
Plus, your chiropractor will tell you that prolonged sitting while on the way to a vacation can increase stress on the muscles and joints, potentially causing musculoskeletal disorders like low back pain and neck pain. Other studies have indicated that prolonged sitting has been associated with higher levels of psychological distress, depression, and decreased overall well-being.
Back, neck, or extremity issues don’t have to prevent you from enjoying the adventures of traveling. Here are some travel tips from doctors of chiropractic – your musculoskeletal specialist.
Tip #1: Pack Light & Be Luggage Smart
Minimize the things you have to carry around. The less you have to carry, the better it is for your chronic back pain. You’re also wise to retire that old heavy suitcase and go for the modern wheeled type. Your back will appreciate it!
Tip #2: Bring Back Support
Bring support that will help you sit comfortably in a vehicle, such as lumbar support (or lumbar roll), an inflatable travel pillow, or a neck pillow. You can also bring heat wraps and an ice pack for pain management. If you’re bringing a blanket, you can roll it up to serve as a neck pillow or make-do lumbar support.
Tip# 3: Wear Comfortable Footwear
It’s better to put comfort over fashion when it comes to traveling. Pack your heels and dress shoes in your luggage if you’re traveling for business. While sitting, ensure both your feet are on a firm surface. This is excellent advice for long-haul flights or extended road trips. If you’ve experienced discomfort on previous trips, consider compression socks to help improve the blood flow in your legs.
Tip #4: Prepare For Your Flights Ahead Of Time
If you’re susceptible to back issues, plan your flights around your condition. Think about skipping the non-stop flight options so you can take a break from sitting for long periods. Layover times are excellent for stretch breaks as they will help relieve biomechanical overload.
If that’s not possible, try to book an aisle seat or emergency exit seat on a plane, train, or bus. This tactic will give you extra room to stand and stretch from time to time. When traveling by air, remember to ask the flight attendant for help placing any heavy items in the overhead bins.
Tip #5: Share The Driving
Sitting in a driving position for long hours can lead to misalignment in the spine. That’s because your hips turn when one foot is stretched to the accelerator. If you’re traveling with others, make it a point to alternate driving with someone else so you have adequate rest and recovery time.
When rental cars are in the travel plans, make sure the vehicle has lumbar support in each seat. This can help manage pain resulting from any spinal pain you be subject to.
Tip #5: Move Around
When traveling by air, make it a priority to move around when permitted and take stretch breaks to provide pain relief for chronic pain. If you’re driving, take regular breaks at least every two hours, even for a minute or two.
Tip #6: Use the Pool
If where you’re staying has a pool, take advantage of it, whether you enjoy swimming or not. Water is good therapy for any travel pain. The buoyancy of water helps take the pressure off our bodies. Bonus water tip: Keep your inside hydrated, too, with a water bottle close by as you enjoy your time in the pool.
Tip #7: Find A Good Bed
Beds that are too hard or soft are bad for your back and can aggravate chronic pain. If possible, call the hotel beforehand and ask if they have a firm bed. You may also ask if they have bellhop services or elevators, so you won’t have to carry a heavy item up the stairs.
Tip #8: Empty Your Back Pockets
Wallets, cellphones, or anything in your back pockets can cause a misalignment in your spine if you keep them there while sitting. When you’re traveling, empty your back pockets.
Tip #9: Consider Your Posture
Sit properly and keep the proper posture while traveling. When checking posture, look for the following:
All these tips, plus planning to prevent tension from hurrying and anxiety, will help make this year’s trips more enjoyable. For more tips, discuss any concerns you may have with your chiropractor before heading to the beach, the mountains, or your resort location.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats tens of thousands of patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area every year. Our Chiropractic Health Center’s goal is to provide affordable chiropractic care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients. The CUKC mission is to educate and develop leaders in health promotion through our Doctor of Chiropractic and health sciences degrees.