It’s no secret that travel can be hard on the human body. Long hours in a cramped car or crowded airplane cabin can wreak havoc on your spine, causing you a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort that can certainly put a damper on your vacation. Sitting for prolonged periods of time puts pressure on various pressure points throughout your spine, which could leave you with aches and pains for the duration of your trip. During your next vacation, follow these back healthy travel tips to make sure your trip is one to remember for fun memories at your destination and not the pain getting there caused you.
Warm Up – While you may think warming up is just for athletes, it’s actually great to do before you jump in the car or board an airplane. Prepare for your trip by stretching or taking a short walk. This will loosen up your muscles and help reduce the amount of pain you feel on the trip.
Sit Up Properly – When traveling by car, adjust the seat so that your back remains straight and you are as close to the steering wheel as possible. This will reduce pressure on your lower back and keep your spine aligned correctly while driving. If you are the passenger, adjust your seat so it is straight. You may even consider driving with a back support to prevent lower back strain, a common side effect of sitting in the car for prolonged periods of time.
Exercise Your Shoulders – While driving, roll your shoulder backward and forward from time to time to keep blood circulating through them and to prevent your shoulder and neck muscles from tensing up during the drive.
Take Rest Breaks – One of the biggest advantages to traveling by car over traveling by plane is having the ability to take breaks as you need them. If you start to feel pain developing in your back, legs, shoulders or neck, pull off and take a break. Get out of the car and stretch, walk around and then resume driving. You may lose time on the road, but you will find you are less pain free on arrival than you would be had you driven through the pain.
Bring Pillows – When traveling by plane, bring a pillow to tuck behind your back to help maintain the proper alignment of your spine and reduce pressure from the hard back of the airplane seat. Place another pillow behind your neck to keep your neck in the proper position as you fly. Pillows are also excellent for keeping your spine aligned when traveling by car, especially if you are riding in the back seat and do not have access to a headrest.
Check Heavy Bags – While it may be appealing to save money by bringing your luggage as a carry on, only do so if the bag is less than 10% of your body weight. Check any bags heavier than that. Lifting heavy bags over your head to load them into the overhead storage compartments on board can strain your back, neck and shoulder muscles.