Going on a vacation can be very exciting. We plan all our activities, excursions, and fun things we want to do when we reach our destination. The one thing that can be very stressful is the traveling part of going on a holiday. When we are on a plane or in the car and our neck is sore, or our back is uncomfortable, so we shift around in our seats to relieve the discomfort. By the time we arrive at our destination, we have neck and back pain that affects us during the vacation moments that were supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable.
There are a few simple tips to make your holiday a much better experience so you don’t have neck or back pain that can damper your holiday.
Travel Tips to Reduce Back Pain
- Pack Lightly. This tip seems obvious enough, but we often pack more than we could require on a trip. We all have the moment when we look in our bag and see that we haven’t worn half the clothes we packed. This tip requires a bit of planning — it means that we pack early enough to not overpack. It also requires us to look at the weather where we’re traveling before we leave and then pack the appropriate clothing and accessories.
- Bend Your Knees. When lifting your bags or suitcases avoid bending forward and twisting. Always keep heavy items as close to your body as possible. Avoid carrying objects if wheels are an option. If you have to carry a personal item, shift it side-to-side or drape it across your body to distribute the weight evenly.
- Be Back Aware. Make sure your seat is upright and supportive. Use a small pillow, rolled-up jacket, or a sweater to support your back. If you have lumbar support in the car utilize it. A little bit of prevention can make a significant difference.
- Get an Aisle Seat. This allows you to get up and walk around the cabin, even just standing for some time will help keep your back from getting stiff.
- Take Frequent Breaks. If you’re traveling by car, take a few breaks and walk around every 1.5-2hrs. Your back needs the break from sitting for significant periods so break up your trip with a few rest periods.
- Keep Well Hydrated. Hydration is important because it has many beneficial properties for your muscles, joints, nerves, and vascular system. Hydration also can minimize your level of Jetlag.
Travel Tips to Reduce Neck Pain
- Be Posture Aware. Make sure you’re not slouching in your seat because this can cause undue tension on your neck muscles and cause strain on your ligaments and joints. Make sure your head is directly over your shoulders.
- Roll Up a Sweater for Support. A neck pillow or rolled-up sweater will support your head tilting from side to side. Place the sweater behind your neck to support the natural curve of your cervical spine – this will provide significant pain relief.
- Keep Your Head Up. When using your devices like your phone try not to tilt your head forward, it puts significant strain on your neck muscles and joints resulting in discomfort. Make sure you take frequent breaks from your devices.
- Do Light Stretches & Movements. It’s easy to do some stretches right in your seat. Go through the six ranges of motion that your neck naturally has: bend your head forward and backward, turn your head left and right, tilt your ear to your left shoulder and right shoulder. Doing these movements stretches your muscles and mobilizes your neck joints. Three or four times through each movement is all it takes.
- Bring Your Pillow. Bringing your pillow could reduce neck pain. Hotel pillows are generally overstuffed or of low quality and result in poor sleeping posture. I always bring my Winkzzz pillow when I travel because it’s customized to me.
- Keep Calm! Listen to some quiet relaxing music and do some deep breathing exercises. If you can, take a bit of aromatherapy with you. Lavender is known for its relaxation properties and applying peppermint on the temples can help with headaches and revitalize you during your trip. Have a cup of herbal tea, like camomile to settle down the anxiety and stress of traveling.
Going on holidays and getting that R&R everyone requires should never be stressful. Travel should be enjoyable, and taking a few precautions can help make the first step to a great holiday experience.
About the Author
Dr. William Heidary is a chiropractor with over 25 years of experience in the health and wellness sector. As Clinic Director/Owner of Back on Track Wellness Clinic, he has treated over 20,000 patients and specializes in chronic pain management. He has been a chiropractic provider to celebrities, musicians, and numerous professional athletes. Dr. Will is part owner and designer of Winkzzz, a customized pillow company and trusted sleep resource that strives to make a global impact on sleep for every-body!