Travel Tips For Back Pain
This time of year, many of you are hitting the roads for vacations to parts
unknown. Long periods of sitting, whether, in a plane, train or automobile can often cause a flare-up of neck or back pain. Just because you have a “bad back” shouldn’t mean that you can’t enjoy traveling for business and/or pleasure. It can be a real challenge to travel for longer than an hour without symptoms creeping up to take the fun out of any trip. Apart from maintaining a regular relationship with your chiropractor, there are some things that you can do. Simple changes can be made to prevent or alleviate these pains from ruining your much-deserved vacation time. Here are some travel tips for back pain while traveling to prevent exacerbation.
Packing the right luggage can help prevent discomfort before your vacation even starts. Carrying a large over-filled bag, suitcase or backpack can throw off your center of gravity, causing your posture to distort and your spine to shift from its normal position. Make sure that any bag that you use allows the weight to be evenly distributed and is not overloaded. Follow these important lifting tips to avoid neck and back injury:
Bend at the knees and use leg muscles rather than back muscles to lift
Avoid twisting the low back while lifting; instead, pivot with the feet
Carry heavy items as close to the body as possible
Distribute weight evenly on each side of the body
If carrying one shoulder bag, switch sides often to avoid stressing one side of the back
Better yet, take advantage of a rolling luggage cart or curbside check-in if available. After all, this IS your vacation, right? Make sure to switch sides with rolling luggage the same way you would with a shoulder bag. Curbside check-in is definitely less expensive than a vacation ruined by neck and back pain.
Once your luggage is packed and loaded into your car or overhead bin and you take your seat, make sure that it is adjusted properly. You can modify these settings for use in airplane seating as well. If you are flying, make sure that when you are storing or removing your luggage from the overhead compartment that you’re in the aisle. Not leaning backward from the seating area.
If you’re one of the many eager passengers rushing to get off the plane reaching for your baggage before you’ve even made it into the aisle. You’re going to put your spine in a compromised position. From the twisting, you’re doing to reach your bag with standing or bending awkwardly over in the seating area. Instead, make sure you are directly in front of the overhead compartment to avoid injuring your back. Which is much more likely when twisting and lifting a bag from overhead.
It is easiest to start with a seat that is completely in the wrong position
and bring it into the correct position. Start by pushing your seat all the way back, place it as low to the floor as able, and recline the back 30-40 degrees.
Bring the seat height up until you can comfortably see the road and instruments and your hips are as high as your knees. If you are too low try adding a cushion or wedge to the seat. This can also decrease vibration from the road which has been shown to contribute to injury. Be sure it does not make you too high so that you have to bend your head down or to the side.
Scoot the seat forward so you can reach and completely depress all the foot pedals without coming away from the seat back.
Bring the back forward until you are reclined at a 100-110 degree angle. This decreases the pressure on the discs in your low back. Adjust your headrest so it rests in the middle of your head. Adjust the lumbar support so you have even back support. This should be supportive and comfortable. A lumbar cushion can be added if your car lacks sufficient lumbar support.
Tilt seat cushion until it evenly supports your entire thigh without pressure in particular areas and does not hit the back of your knees. If it presses unevenly you can restrict circulation and cause discomfort in the legs.
Adjust the seat belt to fit you instead of adjusting the seat to accommodate the seatbelt position.
Bring the steering wheel down and toward you to minimize reach. The less your elbows reach forward and up the less the strain on your neck and upper back.
Now adjust the mirrors. If you start to slouch down the mirrors will seem like they need adjusting.
Fine tune as necessary.
Placing a rolled up towel behind your lower back or neck may provide added relief and support. Ask your chiropractor for recommendations.
While you are traveling, perhaps the most important tip that you hear would be to give yourself plenty of time to get there. It is important to allow for frequent rest breaks and/or stretch breaks as indicated by your chiropractor. Long periods of sitting can stiffen muscles and put stress on the spine. Getting out of your seat and moving around frequently – if possible, every 1-2 hours can provide nutrients and oxygen to your spine, legs, and hips. Simple stretches or walking around for even just 5 minutes can help to alleviate or prevent neck and back pain and stiffness.
Written by Angel Horne