Guest Blogger – from Danielle Vernon, PT, CEAS III, Backbone Cushion
If you’re like many Americans, you may be starting to worry about how you’re going to manage the pain that can often be associated with a long flights, sitting at the airport or extended period in the car. The seats in cars, airplanes and airports aren’t rarely comfortable and sitting still for extended periods can easily aggravate otherwise painless areas in your back and neck.
Consider that you DO have options for how you handle your travel plans and consider these 5 tips to make sure that arrive at your destination feeling better this year.
- Move around frequently if you can help it, don’t sit for more than 30-45 minutes in one spot. Not only does this place extra stress on your spine but it can also slow down the healthy blood flow to your extremities, heart and lungs. You may be limited but something is better than nothing. Try to get out of your car often every 1-2 hours, walk around the airport before and between flights to get the blood pumping and stand or walk around on the plane when you can.
- Support your Spine
Bring a back support like the BackBone Cushion or ask for extra pillows to put behind your back. This will help to bring you out of the contour of the seat and away from the headrest that usually makes you slump causing pain and pressure along your neck and low back.
- Support your feet and minimize your knee pain
Many may find that a small bag or pillow under the seat in front of you can serve as a foot rest. This can decrease compression along the back of your legs, your sciatic nerve and assist in blood flow to the feet. If you are prone to knee problems, it can sometimes be worth paying the extra money to get the extra spacious row. In addition, propping your feet up on something can give you a much needed change in position to allow your legs to stretch out and reduce the stress over your knee caps.
- Pack light and lift luggage in stages
Back and shoulder strain can often occur when you are bent forward and twisted at the same time. For this reason, medical experts often recommend lifting your luggage into overhead bins in stages (from the floor to the seat to the bin) instead of hoisting it all at once. Other important things to remember is to always bend your knees and try to keep your hips and shoulders directed straight at your lifting target so that you minimize any twist that can catch you off guard. Keep the weight of your suitcase close to your body and keep your on-board luggage to something that you roll to limit the amount of lifting you have to do. If you have to lift your luggage, try to keep it to less than 15 lbs or bring 2 smaller bags instead of one big one.
- Bring your own back support
Seats in cars, planes, airports, trains etc, are often made to fit the generic mystery person and, all to often, force us into our worse posture possible. A lumbar roll can help to make the seat more supportive to your low back but consider that, in order to have your entire back supported, you need to have a cushion that will align up with your spine. Try a BackBone cushion for support that will get you out of that “slouched posture” feeling. If you don’t have a cushion or forget to bring one, try rolling up your jacket or sweater and place it along your spine, between your shoulder blades. You’ll feel the relief immediately.
Using all or at least a combination of these tips should help to relieve some of the travel stressors we run into during this holiday travel season. Remember, you may not be able to control your environment but you can at least lessen its effects.