Travel Tips To Protect Your Back
Travel is a necessity in our modern world, but long journeys are not always kind to our spine. We have tips to help you prevent back pain while you are en route to your destination.
Whether you prefer to reach your destination by car, bus, train, or plane, travel can be hard on your back. Cramped quarters, heavy luggage, and long periods of immobility contribute to risks of back strain or injury. We have travel tips to protect your back that you can use to minimize those risks for back pain during your trip.
Travel tips to protect your back
- Pack your own back support. You can tuck a pillow, rolled-up blanket, or even a folded jacket or sweater between the seat and your back to cushion the inward curve of your low back. If you have history of back issues during travel, you might want to bring a lumbar pillow or back brace for extra support. Inflatable travel pillows take up almost no room until you are ready to use them, and they stabilize your neck and head if you want to nap while you travel.
- Pay attention to your posture. Try to keep your knees at right angles to the floor, your back resting against your seat, and your head supported by the headrest. If you are working through a flight, avoid hunching forward over your computer.
- Move and stretch. When you are moving, your blood is circulating and delivering nutrients and oxygen to your spine. Try to leave your seat and walk every 30 minutes. If your lower back becomes tense, find room to bend and stretch your hamstrings and hip flexors.
- Choose your beverages wisely. If you are flying, be aware that high altitudes dehydrate the body, and coffee, tea, and alcohol increase dehydration. Drinking water is the most healthful choice.
- Luggage matters. Select a lightweight suitcase on wheels that is easy for you to pull and maneuver. Transport shoulder bags on top of your suitcase if possible. If you do carry a bag over your shoulder, alternate shoulders regularly to avoid putting stress on one side of your back.
- Follow safe lifting guidelines. When you are moving your luggage, lift slowly and in stages. If you are in an airplane, lift your carry-on to the top of the seat first, and then into the overhead bin. When you are in crowded quarters, pivot with your feet instead of twisting your back. Keep heavy items close to your body as you move them and use your leg muscles to lift.
- Care for any back pain. If you do experience back pain, a plastic bag filled with ice is a quick and convenient way to get relief. Some people like to alternate hot and cold treatments, but remember that too much heat may aggravate swelling. It is best to alternate ice and heat in 10- to 15-minute intervals, and avoid using heat for a long period of time.
With a little advance planning, mindful posture, and thoughtful packing, you can use these travel tips to protect your back while making your journey comfortable and more enjoyable.
Summit Orthopedics is home to Minneapolis/St. Paul’s top spine specialists for neck and back pain treatment. If you are experiencing pain that is not going away after a couple weeks, the spine team at Summit Orthopedics will work with you to determine a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan to address your problems.
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