Whether you're taking a weekend getaway or a cross-country trip, traveling can be tough on your back. Traveling with existing back pain is also an intimidating prospect.
Fortunately, you can do a few simple things to help ease your back pain while traveling. With some planning and preparation, you can make your next trip more comfortable and enjoyable.
Invest in a good travel pillow.
Traveling with pain is about providing adequate support. A good quality neck pillow or a small lumbar support pillow can provide extra cushioning and help manage discomfort.
These pillows provide just enough support to ease your pain while allowing you to enjoy the scenery at the same time. Not only will they come in handy on long flights and bus rides, but they also make great companions when sightseeing around the city!
Traveling with pain doesn't have to be daunting - equip yourself with extra comfort, and you'll be ready for any adventure!
Call the doc before you go.
Back pain can be uncomfortable and inconvenient while traveling, but having the proper medication ready and available can make all the difference.
Chat with your doctor before departure and make sure any necessary prescriptions are refilled and brought along on your trip. You'll be glad you did - just in case a bumpy ride or an uncomfortable seat exacerbates any back pain.
Over-the-counter medications are also helpful in managing back pain - but be sure to brush up on your knowledge before taking any. Bring a few over-the-counter medications with you on the trip, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These can help reduce inflammation and soreness to enjoy your trip without discomfort.
Consider packing topical analgesics, such as a muscle rub or cream, for particularly painful areas. Remember to bring a few extra packs in case you need them!
Wear comfortable shoes
There is nothing better than having comfortable and supportive shoes for walking. Wearing the wrong footwear or shoes without adequate arch support can result in back pain, strained muscles, and even nerve pain.
Take the time to invest in quality, comfortable shoes to help you to stay comfortable and relaxed during your travels. Even if you're going on a short trip, wearing the proper footwear will make all the difference in terms of comfort.
Finding suitable shoes for travel can be easy - choose lightweight fabrics that provide cushioning and support, ensuring that they fit correctly and are in good condition.
Remember to bring any orthotics or additional support you may need. Doing so will help to prevent any further discomfort as you go about your travels.
Take breaks often to walk around and stretch.
You must move around and stretch your muscles regularly when dealing with back pain. Sitting in the same position for too long can cause stiffness and discomfort.
Take frequent breaks - even just a few minutes of walking around or stretching out your body can make all the difference in comfort.
If you are taking a long flight, get up every hour or two to stretch your legs and walk down the aisle.
Where to start for back stretches? Here are a few easy stretches to take along with you.
Seated Spine Twist
Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor and arms crossed over your chest. Slowly twist your spine to one side, hold for 10-20 seconds, then return to the center and repeat on the other side.
Seated Torso Stretch
Sit on the edge of a chair, and place your right hand on your left thigh. Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch in your spine and side muscles, then hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Standing Cat-Cow Pose
Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you arch your spine like a cat, keep your knees slightly bent and arms reaching down to the ground. Exhale as you round your back up towards the sky like a cow, keeping your chin tucked in towards your chest and arms outstretched above your head. Repeat five times or more.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stand with feet hip-width apart and slowly bend forward at the waist, reaching towards the ground. Place your hands on your ankles or calves and gently pull your torso down, holding for 10-20 seconds.
Start by kneeling on the ground with your feet together behind you and your knees hip-width apart. Next, lower your chest to the ground and reach your arms forward, lengthening back as much as possible. Remain here for 10-20 seconds while breathing deeply before returning to a kneeling position.
These simple exercises will help keep your back pain at bay during your travels.
Use a rolling suitcase.
Using a rolling suitcase is easy to manage your luggage during travel. Rolling bags allow you to transport items without lifting and carrying them continuously.
Not only do they provide a more comfortable alternative, but they also help to reduce any strain on the shoulders or back muscles.
One of the great things about rolling suitcases is that they are available in many different sizes and styles, making it easy to find one that fits your need perfectly.
Look for one with sturdy wheels and carrying straps for easy maneuvering and an adjustable handle if needed. Try out the suitcase before buying it to ensure it's comfortable enough for your needs.
Use the spa services.
Many hotels offer spa services, including massage therapy. Look for a spa that offers treatments such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or sports massage.
Most spas also offer additional services like aromatherapy, heated stones, and stretching exercises, which can be highly beneficial for relaxation and recovery.
If you're looking for a more indulgent experience, many spas also offer thermal treatments like hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms. These can help ease muscle tension and improve circulation, essential to managing back pain.
Pack a back brace.
Bringing a back brace on trips can be a great way to provide extra support and relieve any discomfort. Braces are designed to help reduce strain on the lower back muscles and improve posture.
Most braces are adjustable to customize the fit for your needs. Plus, they fold up easily when not in use and only take up a little room in your bag or suitcase.
Look for one made with breathable fabrics that won't cause excessive sweating or discomfort during extended periods of wear.
A back brace will also provide added protection if you need to lift something heavy while traveling. Make sure it fits well without gaps between your skin and the fabric for optimal comfort and support.
Traveling can be a great time to relax and explore new places, but it can also take its toll on our bodies if we must be careful. Fortunately, we can help keep ourselves comfortable and pain-free during our travels with a few easy tips and tricks.
Taking frequent breaks, using a rolling suitcase to transport luggage, and taking advantage of spa treatments are good ways to reduce the strain on your back while traveling.
By following these simple steps, you'll be sure to enjoy your travel experience without any added stress or discomfort.
Camilla Moore, DC, DipACLM is a board-certified chiropractor in Lifestyle Medicine. She practices in an integrative medicine setting and created The Wellness Cabinet to provide evidence-based information on holistic and conventional therapies.