Traveling can be hard on your muscles, joints, and nerves. Prolonged sitting puts stress on the spine and stiffens muscles in the back and legs and lugging heavy suitcases puts you at risk for low back injuries.
These tips can help you reduce pain and stress while traveling:
- Pack Light: Instead of packing one large, heavy suitcase, pack 2 smaller bags. This will make lifting bags into and out of the trunk of your car or overhead bins, and off of baggage carousels much easier.
- Lift luggage in stages: Move slowly and in stages when lifting luggage into the overhead bin. In separate motions, start by lifting the bag to the armrest of the seat, then to the top of the seatback, and finally up and into the bin. Remember to reverse this pattern when you remove your luggage.
- When lifting, never twist: Pivot your feet so that your entire body moves instead of only twisting your back. Twisting is a common cause of lower back injuries. If possible, avoid lifting all together by asking for help from a flight attendant.
- Relief with ice and heat: Bring a Ziploc bag and ask a flight attendant for some ice or stow a cold pack in your carry on. Place between your lower back and your seat for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation caused by lower back pain. A heatable self-massage ball such as Dr. Cohen’s Acuball Kit can provide post-travel relief.
- Move Around: Change positions occasionally when seated to help avoid leg cramps and improve circulation. Massaging your legs and calves and doing shoulder rolls will also help. Consult your doctor for a few safe and easy hip and hamstring stretches you can do while traveling. During long flights and if possible, try to get up and walk about the cabin to stimulate blood flow and help prevent blood clots.
- Get aisle seat: An aisle seat allows you to easily get into and out of your seat. This makes it easier for you to move about the cabin.
- Sit with support: Airline seats are often worn out with poor lumbar support. Place a small rolled-up blanket or use an inflatable back cushion, like a Self-Inflating Back Rest, to find proper lumbar support during flight. Using a U-Shaped Travel Pillow will also provide proper support.
- Drink water: Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water as it helps cushion and lubricate joints and muscles.