How to Avoid Back Pain when Travelling

With all the stress often associated with travelling, the last thing you need added is a tough bout of neck pain or back pain.

What’s the best way to avoid this?

This is a conversation I have all the time with patients, as so many of us travel either for work or pleasure these days.

Here are my top tips:

1. Get up and move every 2 hours. If you’re flying for more than a couple hours, make sure you get up to move around at least every 2 hours. Airplane seats are getting worse all the time, and the more we get wedged in like sardines, the worse the ergonomics of the seats become.

Getting up to move regularly will take stress off your low back, helping to prevent back pain, but will also help with maintaining proper circulation and blood flow, critical during long flights.

2. Use a lumbar roll. If your seat has poor ergonomics, with very little lumbar support, either bring a lumbar roll or support with you on your trip, or take a sweater and roll it up, placing it behind your low back.

This will help to support some of your low back curve, which is designed to absorb the gravitational pressure when you’re sitting.

3. Bring a neck pillow. Try to bring a neck pillow with you if you plan to sleep on the plane. This will help to keep your neck in a neutral posture, and will go a long way to keep it from either flopping way too far forwards, or off to the side, which can result in a painful, stuck neck when you wake up.

4. Drink lots of water when you’re travelling. Air travel in particular tends to dehydrate passengers, resulting in more stiffness in all your tissues. Try to drink a couple glasses of water when you fly to stay hydrated. As an added bonus, all the water will be sure to get you up walking to the bathroom!

5. Lift your luggage properly. When you go to lift your luggage off the dreaded baggage carousel, be careful! If you sat the entire flight, in a lousy seat, and are dehydrated, this is the worst time to bend over, reaching for your bag, and try to wrench a 50 pound bag awkwardly off a moving carousel. This spells potential disaster!

  • position yourself properly, so that you’re facing the carousel straight on.
  • avoid twisting and lifting at the same time.
  • position yourself as close to the carousel as possible, so that you’re not reaching out for your bag.
  • lift by keeping your luggage in tight to your body
  • keep your back straight, and knees slightly bent, when lifting it off.
The tourist is taking his luggage from baggage tape in the terminal. Close up of male hand holding handle of the bag

f you’re lifting lighter objects, look at this article for the best way to pick something up without hurting your back.

If you follow all these tips, you’re much less likely to have back or neck pain the next time you travel, and a much better start and end to your trip!

If you have any questions, or if you have lingering or chronic back problems, feel free to contact us at our Toronto chiropractor clinic. Dr. Byron Mackay

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