The old saying goes: "Vacations are fun, but traveling is a pain in the neck!" Actually, traveling
can be an even bigger pain in the back.
The stress of making plans, packing the essentials, getting to the airport on time, waiting to
check in and the whole security scenario really pack a tough one-two psychological punch to the
Then there's the physical stress and strain of lifting bags, dragging them through the parking
lots and airport, carrying all those over-stuffed carry-ons with gifts and paperbacks.
But the number one complaint by plain, train and automobile travelers—when describing the onset of
their back pain - is sitting for too long. Airplanes and even trains advertise that their seats
were ergonomically designed by specialists to properly support to low back and neck during travel.
But I know the one's I sit in feel horrible. And it's not only me... people complain about them
all the time, and their continuous pain gives them fair reason.
Luckily, the pain associated with travel can be greatly reduced, and in many cases avoided, with
these simple tips:
- To reduce stress-induced muscle cramping and pain in the neck, shoulders and low back, it is
advisable to plan your trip well in advance, pack two days before, load suitcases in the car the
night before, use online check-in to reserve your seat, and check your bags at the curb. These
seemingly little things can reduce the stress and anxiety of rushing around, waiting in lines, and
dragging bags. If planned and executed well, the low back pain associated with stress can be
- Only pack what is absolutely necessary for your carry on. Each family member gets one carry on,
plus a purse (for ladies). To avoid the neck and shoulder strain of lugging these around, and of
trying to place them into and remove them from the overhead compartment, the lighter the better.
- The poor seating designs of most travel vehicles cause back pain due to incorrect support of the
spine, and forward pitching of the shoulders. To avoid this, always bring a small pillow, or use
one that is offered and place it behind your low back or neck for support. If I can't find an in-
flight pillow to use, I will roll up my jacket or even the inflight magazines, and use them as
supports. Seated posture is so important for preventing strain to the spine, and pain to the neck,
shoulders and low back that by whatever means... find and use a support.
- Be sure to remain well hydrated during your travel time. One of the most basic, yet common,
causes of pain is dehydration. Not having enough fluid in the body to keep the body cool, the
blood moving, the muscles supple and the tendons relaxed. Not only must you drink plenty of water,
but you must also avoid coffee, tea and soda during travel, as these all cause you to sweat,
urinate... to dehydrate.
- If you are taking a long drive, train ride or flight, be sure to get up and move every hour.
Simply standing up for a few minutes and doing some light stretching, twisting or bending will
help keep you limber, relaxed and the blood moving in and out of the muscles. And when the blood
does not move or moves too slowly, the muscles and tendons become tight and painful!
- And lastly, be sure that when lifting bags, holding children and reaching for items that you
plant your feet flat for support and bend from the knees. Incorrect lifting or over-reaching for
items is one of the most common causes of back pain... and one of the easiest to avoid.
Travel does not have to be as stressful or painful as many of us make it out to be. If we plan
well, execute well and take care of our bodies while in transit... the trip will be painless. And
what better way to relax on vacation or arrive on business after travel, than stress free,
hydrated, supple and... pain free!
Dr. Wiley is Editorial Manager at The Healthy Back Institute. For more FREE back pain articles and
videos, go to http://www.losethebackpain.com/backpainvideos.html
- Name: Dr. Mark Wiley
- Date: 6/08/09 at 06:44
- Email: DrMarkWiley@gmail.com
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