Traveling for long hours requires you to sit in one position for a long time. Due to restricted blood flow and uncomfortable seats, you may experience pain in your back, neck and joints. But with a little research and preparation, you can use these pain free travel tips to minimize your pain during your next long distance trip.
1. Take as Little Luggage as Possible
As much as possible, avoid carrying a very heavy bag. It will increase the strain on your back and make your lower back feel sore. Instead you should take a light suitcase that has a durable handle and stable wheels. This will reduce the amount of lifting that you need to do during your trip. Also, instead of putting all your valuables in just one bag, you can distribute them in a few small bags. Better still, if you have a lot of luggage to carry, ship them ahead of you so that you will only need to take a small bag when you are traveling.
2. Sit in the Right Position
To prevent strain in the muscles and joints of the lower back, you need to careful check your posture throughout your trip. This is one of the best ways to ensure pain free travel. Avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your spinal cord by ensuring that your back is well aligned with the back of the seat and your head is in the center of the the headrest. Your two feet must rest on the floor of the aircraft, train or bus while your shoulders hang straight by your side. If you are the one driving, make sure you shift the position of the seat and your steering wheel appropriately.
3. Support Your Lower Back
To make your seat more comfortable, use a support pillow to prevent strain in your lower back. This is very important because the seats in most public transportation do not provide adequate support for the back. If don’t have a specially designed lumbar support pillow, you can roll up a blanket and use it to support your back. You may also use the airplane’s blanket or pillow to support your back if you are traveling in an airplane for long hours. Some travellers also use inflatable travel pillows to support the neck and the neck.
4. Move Around Often
The fact that you are traveling in a bus or airplane does not mean you should sit down throughout the trip. Make it a habit to stand up every half an hour and move your body. Movement helps to stimulate blood flow and improve circulation of important body fluids. While you are moving, your blood will take vital nutrients and oxygen to every part of your body including your neck, spine and legs. Waste products will also be transfered away from the muscles of your back so you don’t have unnecessary back ache.
5. Wear the Right Type of Shoes
Shoes are meant to provide comfort and protection for your feet and this particularly important when you have to wear them for a long time during your trip. Opt for shoes that are specially designed for walking or jogging because these shoes usually have well-designed upper, insole and outsole features. For instance, the upper portion will have a breathable mesh material that will allow airflow and keep your feet cool during your trip. The insoles will also help to absorb vibration and prevent soreness at the base of your feet, especially when you have to do a lot of walking and sightseeing during your trip.
6. Choose Your Food Carefully
Many airports and train stations have food and snacks that are high in fat, salt, sugar and processed carbohydrates. All these food choices can cause increased inflammation in the body when you have to sit in one position for long hours. Instead of eating the high calorie snacks available at most rest stops, you should take your healthy snacks along. Take fruits, nuts and plenty of clean drinking water. Avoid taking caffeine or alcohol which can increase inflammation. If you get tired of drinking plain water you can take cherry juice or try a flavored drink but avoid taking soda which contains a lot of sugar.
7. Choose a Less Busy Period for Traveling
In addition to the strain placed on your body due to sitting for long hours, queuing up for a long time to check in can also add to your pain. You can achieve pain free travel by avoiding the times of the week when there is a lot of congestion at the airport. For instance, instead of scheduling your flight for the weekend, you can book a mid week flight. As much as possible, book a seat that will offer you adequate leg room like the aisle seat, so you will find it easy to get up and stretch your legs without bothering other passengers.
8. Give Your Limbs a Stretch
Prolonged sitting can cause the hip flexor and hamstring muscles to become stiff. You can prevent pressure from building up on your lower back by doing a few hamstring exercises. In a standing position, stretch your hamstring muscles by bending forward at your waist, keep the legs straight and then stretch downward till your hands touch your toes. Then stay in this position for a little over 30 seconds.
9. Lift Your Luggage With Care
Physical therapy experts suggest that you should move slowly when you need to move heavy luggage. This will help to prevent the back strain that frequently occurs at the last stage of motion when you are lifting anything heavy. That is why it is better to break up your luggage lifting motion into different stages. For instance, to lift a bag to the cabin’s overhead shelf, you can take it up to the top of the seat first and rest for a few seconds before you finally put it on the shelf.
10. Prepare to Relieve Pain
No matter how well you maintain your posture, arrange your luggage, or stretch during your trip, you may still experience a few painful moments once in a while. When this happens, you must be fully prepared to deal with the pain immediately. So if a back pain flares up, you should be ready to apply cold ice or a hot pack. These are easy to get at airports or train stations. You can also take along an ice bag and ask one of the crew members to help you fill it with ice.
Those are some of the most useful tips you can use to have a pain free travel experience during your next trip. Plan ahead so you can pack your luggage appropriately and give yourself enough room to stretch and walk around as often as possible.