Do you have an exciting trip planned soon? More than likely, it involves a long plane, train or car ride. This can leave you aching, stressed out, and having stiff back pain before the fun even starts!
“Prolonged sitting is one of the hardest things on your body and back,” says Dr. Steven Carlson, D.C. “Awkward positions from airplane and car seats can lead to pressure points that cause restricted blood flow to the lower part of the body. This is dangerous to the blood vessels in your back and legs.”
The staff at Carlson Chiropractic recommend these tips to prevent strains and aches from travel:
Make sure you always warm up before a trip. A long plane ride affects your body a lot like a workout. Do some stretching before and after the flight or car ride. Take a brisk walk or even a jog when you get to your destination. This will help loosen your hamstrings and calf muscles.
On an Airplane
- Try to maintain the normal S curve in your spine when seated. This can be obtained by using rolled up blankets behind your lower back and a pillow between your neck and the headrest.
- Protect your spine by checking all luggage that is heavier than 5% to 10% of your body weight. For the average size person, that is anything larger than 15 pounds. If you have to load a bag in the overhead bin, make sure to stand directly in front of the bin. Do not turn or twist your neck and spine in the process. This will reduce pain in the lower back and neck.
- While flying, vary your seated position to encourage blood flow. This will help avoid muscle cramps. You might even want to do a little self-massage to your legs and calves.
- Make sure to not have your air vent blowing strongly on you. This can cause you to tense up and leave your neck and shoulders strained.
In a Car
- If you are driving, make sure to adjust your seat to get as close to the steering wheel as possible so you are comfortable. Your knees should be a bit higher than hips.
- If your seat does not have a built in back support, we highly recommend investing in one. This will really reduce the amount of lower back strain. A back support will fill in the empty space of the normal S curve of your spine.
- Do a little chair exercise! This will help reduce the swelling in the legs. Start at the toes, opening them as wide as you can. Hold that for a few seconds. Work up the leg. Tighten and release your calf muscles, move to your thighs and finish with your glutes. Roll your shoulders several times forward and backwards. Be safe, though! Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel.
- Make sure to not grip the steering wheel with a death grip. Keep your hands at 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock. Tighten and loosen your grip to help with blood flow. This will leave your arm muscles relaxed.
- Schedule rest breaks to get out of the car and stretch. Sometimes we don’t realize how fatigued we can become sitting at the wheel for extended periods of time.
Don’t let the long trip to your next exciting adventure cause you back pain and ruin your trip. Follow these tips to stay pain-free. If you are returning from an aching travel day, our doctors at Carlson Chiropractic Center are trained and licensed to treat those problem areas of your spine and nervous system. Call 417-782-6300 today.