Man holding his back in pain

Tips to Protect Your Back During Holiday Traveling

While some people spend the winter holidays cozily at home, others venture out for adventure and relaxation, either to meet with family or friends who live at a distance or to explore a new environment. If you fit into the travel category this year, you may be looking for ways to keep your back comfortable while you’re away from your bed and the recliner that offers you sanctuary when your back is “out.”

If, despite the tips included in this blog, you suffer back pain en route to your destination, while roaming around a foreign country, clustered in a house full of loved ones, or when you return home, contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine for a reboot. Our highly skilled physiatrists are here to help you recuperate and revitalize.

Ways to Protect Your Back From the Inevitable Trials of Travel

1.  Lift Carefully — Whether Traveling by Land, Sea, or Air

Even when you limit yourself and your family to carry-ons for air travel, you will probably be lifting more than you’re used to during your holiday travels. If you’re traveling by car, the temptation to bring too much can be hard to resist. 

Remember to bend at the knees when lifting luggage and children who are no longer as small as they once were. Even in your rush to get through an airport terminal quickly, try to remain aware of your movements so that you don’t twist your body while lifting. The same goes for paying attention as you load the trunk and the roof rack of the car. 

Try to alternate shoulder bags from one side to another and not strain to lift some bags while pushing wheeled suitcases. Also, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. If something feels too heavy for you to lift alone, it is likely to cause you injury.

2. Once You’re Onboard, Don’t Spend Too Much Time Getting Stiff

Though it’s difficult to move around in most moving vehicles, do what you can to move and stretch and alternate tensing and relaxing your muscles. If you’re on an airplane, make sure to get up and walk the aisle a few times during the trip, turn your neck from side to side periodically, and occasionally stretch your arms over your head. 

Because a moving car allows little movement, make sure to take regular breaks to get out and stretch and walk a bit. The few moments you spend doing this will help your blood circulate, clear your mind, and keep your muscles from stiffening, and will not significantly slow down your trip.

3. Riding While Tightly Seated Is Not Restful

Traveling is tiring. Don’t pretend that you’re well-rested after many hours on a plane or in a car. Take the time you need to spread out on a bed where you can completely relax, and make sure to get enough uninterrupted sleep. Sightseeing, conversing with relatives and friends, and playing with the kids are all wonderful, but being “on” for a concentrated period of time takes psychic as well as physical energy. Give yourself time to recuperate from intense periods of fun.  

What You Can Do to Help Keep Nagging Pain From Lashing Out

1.  Bring the Things You Need and the Things You Hope Not to Need

Part of your preparation for travel should include bringing supplies to help prevent back and neck problems if you’re prone to them, such as a neck pillow for the plane or car, a pillow for between your knees while you sleep, or a lumbar pillow for low back support. An ice pack or heating pad and some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may also be helpful. This way, if you feel back pain after a sudden movement or as you become fatigued, you’ll be able to take steps to relax before the pain worsens. 

2. Keep to a Healthy Routine despite the Celebratory Atmosphere

A healthy routine means: eating sensibly, staying hydrated, not smoking or overindulging in alcohol, getting enough sleep, doing some reasonable exercises even if you’re unable to follow your usual regimen, and taking time to let go. If you typically meditate, continue doing so during your travels. 

Contact Our Experienced Back Pain Specialists Whenever You Need Us

Whether you need a tune-up before your holiday travels or return from your trip with an unpleasant ache, give us a call. We are experienced diagnosticians and pragmatic healers, ready to diagnose your back problem and resolve it as quickly as possible.