Traveling can be rough on the body. Whether you are traveling alone on business or on your way to a sunny resort with your family, long hours in a car or an airplane can leave you stressed, tired, stiff and sore. Even if you travel in the most comfortable car or opt to fly first class, being stuck in a seat for too long can result in mechanical spine pains.
Our doctors suggest the following tips and advice to fight the strains of travel before they occur:
Warm Up, Cool Down
- One of the biggest insults to your system from prolonged sitting is the buildup of pressure in the blood vessels in your lower legs. Contracting and relaxing the muscles helps the blood flow properly.
- Treat travel as an athletic event. Warm up before settling into a car or plane, and cool down once you reach your destination. Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
In an Airplane
- Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Then use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain that curve when you sit in your seat. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the beltline and lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks a little.
- Improper overhead lifting should be avoided to reduce the risk of injury in the lower back, shoulder, or neck. While lifting your bags, stand right in front of the overhead compartment so the spine is not rotated.
- While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.
- Do not sit directly under the air controls. A draft can increase tension in neck and shoulder muscles.
Travel By Car
- Adjust the seat so you are as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible. Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips. Place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closest to your knee. If you cannot easily slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat.
- Consider a back support. Using a support may reduce the incidence of low-back strain and pain. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
- Exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue or discomfort. Open your toes as wide as you can, and count to 10. Count to five while you tighten your calf muscles, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal muscles. Roll your shoulders forward and back, making sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
- To minimize arm and hand tension while driving, hold the steering wheel at approximately 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock, periodically switching to 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
- Do not grip the steering wheel. Instead, tighten and loosen your grip to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands.
- While always being careful to keep your eyes on the road, vary your focal point while driving to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and tension headaches.
- Take rest breaks. Never underestimate the potential consequences of fatigue to yourself, your passengers and other drivers.
If you follow these simple tips, you can enjoy pain free, safe travel. However, if you do experience aches and pains contact us today, we can help.