When traveling, you may often feel neck pain or lower back pain caused by long hours of sitting in a car, plane, or sleeping in a hotel bed that’s uncomfortable for you. Traveling becomes extra challenging when you have back issues, especially if you have a home environment specially designed for your condition. However, don’t let your back issues prevent you from enjoying the adventures of traveling. Here are some travel tips:
Pack Only The Necessary Things
Minimize the things you have to carry, i.e. packing light. The less you have to carry, the better it is for your chronic back pain. Don’t bring unnecessary things to minimize your efforts in lifting luggage. For this part, it is always best to plan ahead. If able, plan to use just carry-on luggage which will fit in the overhead compartment. Planning ahead can also reduce the time spent standing in lines.
Bring Back Support
Bring support that will help you sit comfortably in a vehicle, such as lumbar support (or lumbar roll), an inflatable travel pillows, or a neck pillow. You can also bring heat wraps and ice pack and a pain reliever for pain management. If you’re bringing a blanket, you can roll it to serve as a neck pillow as well. These would be considered the minimal for travel gear and travel accessories.
Wear Comfortable Footwear
It’s better to wear comfortable shoes while traveling and walking. Pack your heels and dress shoes in your luggage if you’re traveling for business. Make sure that your feet are placed on a firm surface while on the road or flying, especially on longhaul flights. Compression socks are invaluable for helping blood flow in the legs.
Prepare For Your Flights Ahead Of Time
Knowing your back issues, plan your flights around your condition. You may want to skip the non-stop flying option so you can take a break from sitting for long periods and use the layover time for stretch breaks. If you would rather spend less time flying, try to book an aisle seat or emergency exit seat, so you have extra room to stand and stretch from time to time. Although an aisle seat can be an issue in letting others on your row out, if you travel with back pain, it can become welcomed for the change positions and help prevent back pain. If you travel by air, you may want to ask the flight attendant for help placing your heavy item in the overhead bins.
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Sitting in a driving position for long hours can increase misalignment in the spine because your one foot is stretched out to the accelerator, so your hips turn. If you’re traveling with others, alternate driving with someone else so you can take a rest. And if you are getting car rentals make sure the car has lumbar pillows in each seat, this can help support pain management for a herniated disc providing pain relief. Obviously don’t take muscle relaxers if you are driving.
Air travelers need to move around and take stretch breaks to provide pain relief for chronic pain. If you’re traveling by plane and have some free time in between flights, you may want to walk around instead of sitting as this can prevent back pain. If you’re driving, taking regular breaks is also recommended. The same goes when you’re commuting on a bus or train; stand up and take a walk. The more you can move around, the better.
Use The Pool
If your accommodation has a pool, use it to your advantage. Water is good therapy for an travel pain, and keep yourself hydrated as well with a water bottle close by.
Find A Good Bed
Beds that are too hard or soft are bad for your back and can aggravate chronic pain. If possible, call the hotel beforehand and ask if they have a firm bed. You may also ask if they have bellhop services or elevators, so you won’t have to carry a heavy item up the stairs. Plan ahead you can avoid many instances where you can reduce pain traveling in your back.
Empty Your Back Pockets
Wallets, cellphones, or anything in your back pockets can cause a misalignment in your spine if you keep them there while sitting and can especially irritate a herniated disc. So if you’re traveling, empty your back pockets because you’ll be sitting most of the time. This is also great advice when going through airport security.
Consider Your Posture
Sit properly and keep the right posture while traveling. It is only suitable for those with back pain but also for everyone who travels. There may be uncomfortable positions while on the road, so make sure you watch out for your posture.
Planning ahead of time and a few precautions can make smarter travel more enjoyable even when you have lower back pain. Bringing the supporting travel gear you need, being mindful of your posture, and moving around as much as possible will help ease the pressure on your back.
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