With Thanksgiving this week and Christmas, Hanukkah and other seasonal holidays just around the corner, holiday season traveling is full swing. In fact, according to AAA, nearly 51 million Americans traveled across the country and globe for Thanksgiving and other holidays last year. The holidays, especially holiday traveling, can be stressful, but back and neck pain management should not be one the contributing factors. Kuether Brain and Spine wants to help by sharing five tips for neck and back pain management while traveling.
- Lifting Luggage (especially heavy bags) Using Proper Technique
Lifting heavy objects or luggage improperly is an easy way to strain your neck or back. Remember to use proper technique of bending at the knees to use your leg muscles to lift items rather than your back muscles to lift. Also when lifting, it is important to avoid twisting the lower back so pivot feet to the desired direction. If you can, making a conscious effort to pack light can be helpful and if you’re using a one-sided shoulder bag, try to switch sides throughout your travel to avoid overuse or strain of one side.
- Wear Supportive Shoes
Your foot support is critical to proper posture and providing your body, especially the lower back, the support it needs. If possible, sit with both feet on the ground to distribute weight evenly and avoiding transferring stress to the back.
- Bring Neck or Back Supports
Long flights or long drives can be challenging; however, it can be helpful to use lumbar support pillows or neck pillows. They may seem like a pain to pack, but other alternatives like a roller sweater or blanket can be useful replacements for lumbar support and there are inflatable neck pillow options as a space saving alternative.
- Move as Much as Possible
It is recommended that humans move their bodies every 20-30 minutes and while this is difficult to maintain while traveling, it is critical to make a conscious effort to move throughout long flights and drives. Whenever possible and safe to do so, try to move about the cabin or pull over at road trip stops and move around. Also when flying, walk around or near your gate prior to your flight to stay flexible and limber.
- Take Time to Stretch Before, After and During Travel
Sitting for such long periods of time can make your neck, back and body feel tight. Implement a stretching routine as part of your travel prep and then continue to practice this routine during and after your travel is complete. Some airports have stretching or yoga rooms available to make stretching even more accessible during layovers.
With these tips, back and neck pain management can be one less worry. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, be sure to connect with a medical professional. The entire team at Kuether Brain and Spines wishes all safe travels during this busy holiday season and we hope you enjoy this time of year as much as we do!