Does Your Back Hurt When You Travel?
Even if you do not generally have back pain, chances are good that you have experienced it when traveling. We sit for long stretches of time in seats that are not designed for the human body. Airplanes are the worst, but trains, busses, and cars can create an aching back too.
Here are some tips to help combat the soreness:
- Drink water: Staying hydrated may be the most important prevention for back pain. I know that bathrooms on planes, trains, and busses are not particularly pleasant, but it is better to drink water and deal with the facilities. When you are dehydrated, your body pulls water from muscle tissue and the digestive system so it can keep your blood flowing and your brain functioning. Dry muscles are more likely to ache. You can help yourself by drinking more than you really want to make sure you are well-hydrated.
- Get creative with the pillows and blankets provided: Often seats force you into an unnatural back curve. On a long trip, this can become most uncomfortable. Use the little pillow behind your back, and change its position several times during the trip. You can also fold the blanket behind your back. I use both. Sometimes the seat hits the back of your head in exactly the wrong spot. You can sit on the blanket to lift you up a little. Think about what you have on hand and experiment to make yourself comfortable. You may also want to carry a cushion or neck pillow with you.
- Move: Sitting still in a crunched posture for hours is tough on your vascular system. Bodies need movement to help blood and other fluids to flow back to the heart. Feet and ankles can swell because there is not enough muscle contractions to help them flow up hill.. Your low back can suffer from this congestion too.
Try these movements while sitting.
- Point and flex your feet.
- Tighten and release all of your leg muscles.
- Contract your butt or gluteal muscles several times an hour. You can do this all over your entire body, and nobody will know.
- Stretch: As soon as you can, stretch out all the kinks. You have been curled up in a forward folded position so do the opposite. Press your hips forward to stretch out the hip flexors. These are the muscles right at the top of your thighs, the ones that connect your trunk with your legs. Also, make sure to arch your upper back by pressing your chest out. By all means, breathe deeply.
There is no need to be miserable when traveling. If you take care of yourself before, during, and after, your trip will be much better.
You can learn how to stretch your entire body in our Whole Body Stretch. Once you know them, you can take them with you. You will have much more fun on both short and long trips if your body feels strong and relaxed.
Good health to you and happy travels,