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How to Maintain Back Health While Travelling

05/27/2015 12:29 EDT | Updated 05/27/2016 05:59 EDT
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If you suffer from back issues like I do then your even more conscious on how to stay back healthy while travelling. I usually travel with Pilates stretch bands and have a routine of exercises that I follow. I've also gone for chiropractic treatments if I feel its necessary before embarking on a trip. On the road, uncomfortable car seats to small, cramped spaces on airplanes, buses, or trains, travel puts a serious strain on backs and necks.

Here are a few travel tips that can work to reduce or avoid back pain and discomfort while travelling:

Bring Your Own Back Support

Always be sure to provide support behind your lower back to reduce lower back pain while flying. While you can bring a back roll or lumbar support, it's also possible to create this yourself with a few airplane pillows or your own travel pillow. In a pinch, a jacket, sweater or blanket rolled up can also provide support for the inward curve of the low back.

Be Careful When Lifting Luggage

When lifting a heavy item, back strain often occurs near the end of your range of motion. For this reason, experts recommend moving slowly when lifting a heavy piece of luggage and breaking the action into smaller parts whenever possible. For example, when lifting a bag into an overhead bin, it can first be lifted to the top of the seat, then into the bin in a separate motion. Alternatively, you can simply ask for help, especially when grabbing luggage off the baggage claim belt or when lifting carry-on luggage into the overheard compartment of an airplane.

Keep Your Knees at a Right Angle to Avoid Low Back Stress

If your feet are not on firm ground while sitting, additional stress is transferred to your low back. Therefore, if your seat is too high, try to rest your feet on a footrest (or something that can act as a footrest) to keep your knees at a right angle and avoid stressing the low back. Having good posture is also important, so be sure your feet, back and neck are always in alignment. This is particularly important during long-haul flights or long car rides.

Always Pack Light

A light suitcase with wheels is always the best packing option. Don't pack more than you need, and consider how items can serve double duty while you're on the road. These days, it's even possible to avoid having luggage at all by shipping most of what you'll need ahead of time and carrying just one small bag on your trip.

Don't Forget to Move Around

Again, even for perfectly healthy backs and spines, sitting in one position for extended periods of time stiffen the back muscles and can put stress on the spine. While travelling, it's important to get up and move around as much as possible. Stretch your legs on the way to the bathroom or stand for a while (if possible) in the galley area of the plane.

Movement actually stimulates blood flow, and blood brings important nutrients and oxygen to the structures of the back. This helps prevent soft tissues in the low back from stiffening, which is what causes aching after periods of prolonged sitting.

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