The holiday season is one of the biggest travel times of the year, and if you haven’t already done so, it’s likely your plans call for some traveling over the next two weeks.
Whether your travel plans entail flying across the country or driving a few hours from home, let’s face it: traveling can be difficult for many of us. Between crowded highways, packed planes and the general mania of the holiday season, the process of getting from point A to point B can be a dreadful one. Being in a confined space and sitting for long periods of time can also be painful for your back or neck.
The reason is that airplane and car seats are designed for comfort for the average back curve. However, many people have variations with flat backs or excessively curved backs. The typical contoured seat puts the average flat back on too much of a prolonged stretch. The average curved back is not used to the lack of support and get overstrained.
As a result, many people with back pain are hesitant about traveling. This can cause them unnecessary stress or prevent them from traveling altogether. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take while traveling that will reduce the chances of experiencing back pain. Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends these tips for managing back pain while traveling by bus, car, train or plane:
- Flat backs need to block the prolonged overstretch by creating a soft arch in the seat; many cars have built in lumbar supports; planes need a supplemental support, like an inflatable lumbar pillow, rolled towel or travel sweater
- Stretch your entire body, especially your back, before departing, to prepare it for the prolonged stretch of contoured seats
- Avoid hunching forward; keep both feet on the ground
- Be sure your lumbar region is against the back of the seat and the headrest (when applicable) is supporting the middle of your head
- Stand up and move around at least once every 30 minutes; if there’s enough space, do some stretching while standing; if not, do some basic seated stretches
- Flex and straighten your legs and arms, move your knees up and down and make circles with your ankles
- Pack lightly, check heavy bags and avoid overhead lifting of heavy luggage
- When driving in a car, follow the same seating tips as above; also make sure you’re as close to the wheel as possible to avoid a hunched reaching posture
- Take frequent quick stops every 45 minutes to take the constant stretch off the back; walk around and arch the back and side bend slowly to relieve the sitting strain; trade off driving duties
Traveling may seem like a pain, but that doesn’t mean it should actually cause you any actual back pain. Follow these tips and don’t let your back prevent you from seeing your loved ones over the holidays. For any additional back pain questions or other issues, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC is here to help. Call us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.