Summer means travel. And, most likely, that mean spending uncomfortable hours in a car or on a plane, which can trigger back, joint and muscle pain. Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid the aches and pains of travel this summer.
1. You may want to visit a chiropractor before your trip. Getting an adjustment before your trip could save you from aches and pains while on vacation.
2. Warm up and stretch before you get into the car or board the airplane. It sounds silly but stretching can help warm up your muscles and prevent them from tightening up.
3. Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. It will tilt your pelvis and could cause pain.
4. Bring an ice pack, moist hot pack or biofreeze with you in case pain does flare you have something to help ease the pain.
On a Plane
1. Be careful to lift your luggage out of the car and lift it into the overhead bin without twisting your spine. Bend from your knees rather than arch your back. If you’re taking your luggage aboard the plane with you, be sure to switch it from side to side as you traverse the terminal. That goes for your shoulder bag, too. Check bags that weigh more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight.
2. Tilt your seat backward to support your spine. Bring a small pillow or cushion with you for lumbar support, and a C-shaped neck pillow to encourage proper posture and to help you sleep. You might also want to sit on your jacket or a blanket to reduce the discomfort of sitting on an inadequately cushioned seat.
3. Be aware of your posture. Align your spine against the back of the seat and be sure the headrest supports the middle part of your head. Avoid rounding your shoulders and plant both feet firmly on the floor (rest them on your carry-on if you’re too short).
4. Stay hydrated. Very low humidity in the pressured cabin dehydrates the body. Choose water over alcohol, coffee or tea, which encourage dehydration.
In the Car
1. Adjust the seat so you’re as close to the wheel as you can be, and keep your knees a little bit above your hips.
2. Alternate holding your hands at the 2 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions, then the 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock positions. Don’t grip the wheel too tightly, as that increases muscle fatigue in the hands, wrists and arms.
3. Use a pillow for lumbar support.
4. Take a break every couple of hours, and do some active range-of-motion exercises.
5. Use cruise control so your legs can rest at a right angle in the car.
6. If you develop pain or tension in your neck or the back of your head, try this exercise: Sit up straight, look straight ahead, and press the back of your head into the headrest. Hold for five seconds, and do 10 reps.
If pain lingers after you travel, its time to go see your chiropractor!