Many of us are going to travel this holiday season, sometimes long distances. Here are several tips on how to avoid muscle and back pain as you venture out to visit your loved ones.
Back and Neck Support
Seats in most vehicles, whether plane or car, often lack the correct type of lower back and neck support. A lumbar support pillow is a great way to be more comfortable. If that is not available, a piece of clothing or blanket rolled up can give lower back support. An inflatable travel pillow around the neck can help avoid neck strain while resting or sleeping in a sitting position.
Correct low back support also necessitates support from your feet. Your feet must be placed firmly on a surface or additional stress is sent to your lower back. Keep your knees at a right angle, use a footstool if necessary. Use cruise control to allow your legs to rest at this position in a car.
Avoid unnecessary luggage that could cause strain when pulling or lifting. When lifting it into a compartment or trunk, bend your knees and avoid twisting. When carrying bags, make sure they are balanced or actively switch sides when walking any long distance with them.
Posture and Movement
Long sitting periods cause strain in your back muscles. Use your headrest with the back supporting the middle of your head. Your spine is meant to move so get up and stretch every 20 to 30 minutes. Take frequent stops on car rides even if it is to just stand and stretch. It is especially important to stretch your hamstrings. Just 10 seconds of movement and stretching go a long way. Movement pumps blood and therefore oxygen and nutrients into your body. It can even prevent blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis from developing.
Extra Airplane Tips
- Get an aisle seat. This allows you to get up and stretch more easily and frequently.
- Recline. Especially on long flights, recline your seat to alleviate pressure and calm nerves.
- Drink liquids. Don’t turn down the drink counter as it comes by. It is best to drink water. Dehydration agitates muscles which trickles into skeletal strain.
- Use the bathroom. It is an easy excuse to get up and walk the length of the plane or at least some distance. Stretch while in the bathroom if there is any room.