When you suffer from back pain travelling can become a nightmare. The cramped seats of cars, trains, and aeroplanes are not designed with lower back support in mind, so a long haul flight can mean painful muscle spasms and lower back pain. However, the last thing anyone wants when arriving at a holiday destination is a stiff neck or an aching back. That’s why we’ve put together 7 tips to help avoid back pain while travelling.
1) Choose The Right Seat
Avoiding back pain while you travel starts with booking the right seat. Although not always possible, when booking a flight, particularly long-haul flights, it is best to choose an aisle or exit row seat. This is because these seats allow more leg room, ensuring that your legs can be placed in a comfortable position to reduce strain on your lower back.
2) Stay Hydrated
In the days leading up to your trip, as well as during the flight, it is important drink plenty of water in order to keep your body well hydrated.
3) Bring Supports
Bringing supports such as a neck pillow and a lumbar cushion is key to avoiding back pain while travelling. This is particularly true for long haul flights as aeroplane seats lack sufficient lower back support.
Choose a neck pillow that moulds to the shape of your neck to reduce any strain on your neck caused by falling asleep with your seat in the upright position.
Place your lumbar cushion against the back of your seat so that it sits in the natural curve of your back as this will reduce the strain on your lower back when your seat is in the upright position. If you don’t have a lumbar cushion you could use a jacket or rolled up blanket for extra support instead.
4) Support Your Feet
It is also important to support your feet when sitting for an extended period of time. Sit with your feet firmly on the ground and with your knees at right angle. This will reduce additional stress that would otherwise be transferred to your lower back. If you have shorter legs, consider bringing a footrest, or something solid that you can rest your feet on.
5) Take Regular Breaks
Ensure that you aren’t sitting in the same position for too long by getting out of your seat and moving around every hour or so. If there is space to do so, do some gentle exercises to stretch your shoulders and upper back. If you’re not sure which exercises to do, consult your chiropractor before travelling.
Between breaks, ensure that you are maintaining good posture (keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed, without slouching, and avoid leaning to one side).
6) Lifting Luggage
Begin by packing light to avoid back pain or injury when lifting luggage. This is particularly important when packing your carry on bag as you will need to lift it into the overhead compartment.
If you’re using a backpack, ensure that both straps are used to evenly distribute the weight on either side of your body. If you have a bag with a single strap, regularly change shoulders.
When lifting your luggage, bend at the knees and use your leg muscles to lift rather than your back muscles. Try lifting in steps by first lifting your carry on onto the seat, and then to the overhead compartment. Additionally, it is important not to twist your torso when lifting, but to pivot with your feet instead. If your carry on is too heavy to lift, ask the flight attendant to help you.
7) Stretches & Exercises
Before you travel, contact your local chiropractor as they will be able to advise you on exercises and stretches that are safe for you to do at home, to strengthen your back and core muscles in preparation for your flight. These exercises will aim to reduce the likelihood of painful muscle spasms, as well as back and neck pain that can be caused by sitting in a cramped aeroplane seat for an extended period of time.
If you have a trip coming up book an appointment with your local chiropractor at Back To Front Chiropractic to help prevent back and neck pain. Call 07 3393 2201 today and ask about our new patient offer!