Summer travel is officially here and whether you’re road tripping it or taking to the skies this season, you don’t want back pain to go along for the ride. Dr. Richard Guyer of the Texas Back Institute has provided a few traveling tips you can take with you on your trip:
Pack light. Pack only what you need to limit the weight you need to pull around.
Handling luggage. Whether it is the beginning of your trip or you’re on your way home, you don’t want to injure yourself when handling your luggage. Use rolling luggage and remember to move slowly when lifting your luggage. Also, try and break down the action of lifting your luggage into smaller steps. When you load a suitcase into a trunk, slowly lift it onto a stool and then lift it the rest of the way into the trunk. Use a valet, if possible.
Avoid the same position. Try and avoid being in the same position for extended periods of time. This may cause stiffness and more pain. If driving, you should try to stop for a break about every hour for at least five minutes long. Try and walk around and stretch out those muscles. You want to keep the blood moving. If on a plane be mindful of in-flight rules, but take a quick trip down the isle if you can to stretch your legs.
Maintain correct posture. While driving, pull the seat as close to the steering wheel as is comfortable. Your back should rest against the seat. If your vehicle has a lumbar support, adjust it properly to ‘fill in the gap’ between your back and the seat.
Bring a lumbar support. Seats on planes, trains, and cars are often not back friendly. By bringing your own lumbar support, you can take stress off the sensitive areas of the back.
Use cruise control. While driving you may want to consider using the cruise control so that you do not have to have your foot on the gas, which will relieve stress in your foot, leg and spine.
Ice packs and heat. Bring along ice packs and self-heating packs for a long car ride. You can ice the affected area every 20 minutes. Then wait 20 minutes and repeat. Muscle rub ointment patches and self-heating packs also work wonders. Some of the heat packs can work up to 8 hours at a time. This can be a real relief when stuck in the same position for longer than you expect to be. If on a long plane ride, check TSA regulations about carry-on items allowed, or put the packs in your checked luggage to use after you get off the plane.
Take medications along. Make sure to take medications along so that you can get to them no matter how you are traveling. You will also want to bring water and maybe a snack to take these medications.
If you’d like additional tips or insights from Dr. Guyer, please don’t hesitate to contact me.