Spring is here and with summer just around the corner, everyone is getting excited about packing up and vacationing somewhere new with friends and family. Travel is so much fun, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Read on for some practical tips from Dr. Hilary Taglio that will help you enjoy your next vacation, free of pain!
Travel can be very hard on the body, as sitting in awkward positions for prolonged periods of time can restrict blood flow, put strain on muscles and joints and may contribute to several other issues as well. A frequent travel complaint I hear from my clients is about the back and neck pain that accompanies it. Pulling and lifting heavy luggage, uncomfortable airplane seats, long hours of sitting in the same position, sleeping in different beds and on pillows you aren’t used to and general lack of movement, can affect your spine, put strain on muscles and joints and lead to back and neck pain. If the body lacks movement, stretching or activity in general, it can lead to stiffness and pain. Pre-existing weak areas (or underlying problems) in your body can start acting up and become more apparent as well.
Be aware of your posture:
- Lift your luggage carefully. While lifting luggage into and out of the car and off carts and up into overhead compartments etc., watch how you are lifting. Check any luggage that is heavier than 5-10% of your body weight. Avoid overhead lifting of any significant weight to reduce the risk of causing pain in the lower back or neck. Stand right in front of the overhead compartment and do not rotate your spine while lifting. Bend at the knees and keep from bending and/or twisting at your back. If you need help, ask for it. There is nothing worse than being injured and laid up while on vacation.
- Poor posture puts a lot of stress on your spine. While sitting, keep your feet firmly on the floor, back aligned against the back of the seat, keeping your shoulders straight and head against the headrest. Use a rolled up pillow or blanket behind your neck and lower back to help maintain spinal curves while you sit in your seat. If you are driving, adjust your seat and steering wheel properly. If you are packing a bag, use a backpack that has two straps, to distribute weight more evenly on your shoulders and back.
- Minimize arm, wrist and hand tension while driving, by holding the steering wheel at approximately 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock and then switching to 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock periodically. Tighten and loosen your grip on the steering wheel to increase circulation and decrease muscle fatigue.
Take frequent stretching breaks. Incorporate as much stretching as you can during your trip.
- Get up every ½ hour while on a plane and walk around (try to choose an aisle seat).
- If you are driving, make regular stretching stops at least once an hour, so your body doesn’t stiffen up.
- Movement increases circulation, helps to avoid leg cramps, lessens spinal stress and reduces fatigue. If you have been still and in one position for a long period of time, certain movements may be immediately damaging to tissues that are stiff, such as lifting heavy luggage or twisting the wrong way. Keeping movement in your body throughout your travel time, can help keep your tissues and joints warm and flexible, preventing injury.
Get your spine aligned. This will remove restrictions, take pressure off the disc and nerves and eliminate pain coming from lack of movement within these joints.
- Spinal adjustments will keep the joints loose and flexible and will also help improve communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal adjustments also improve immune function, which can help you avoid illness while you are away as well.
- I highly recommend getting an adjustment before your trip to release restrictions and again once you return, to tune up the spine after poor movement or positions while traveling.
- Locate a Trusted Practitioner. It would be ideal to get adjusted while you are away, to minimize discomfort while you are relaxing and enjoying your time playing (ask your local Chiropractic Practitioner to refer you to someone they know and trust and send you off with a copy of your spinal x rays and other pertinent information about your spine).
Do stretches and regular exercise while you’re away, even if it is just taking regular daily walks, to avoid stiffness and injury. Look for activities at your destination that will help you incorporate movement, like guided walking or bike tours.
Choose proper nutrition options while you are on vacation to help you stay healthy and keep you on track as well. You have worked so hard to be healthy, don’t throw it all out the window because you are on vacation. Continue adopting your healthy habits during vacation to continue feeling and being the best you can be. It is so much more enjoyable to feel good and have energy while you are playing and having fun with your loved ones. Keep in mind, the foods people tend to allow themselves to have during vacation (sugar, alcohol, restaurant food etc.) will also play a large role in how stiff and achy your joints will feel as well.
Stay hydrated. Avoid too much coffee, alcohol or soda and drink 2-3L of water each day to keep your muscles, joints and discs hydrated, reducing stiffness and increasing tissue flexibility. Proper hydration will also keep headaches at bay as well as help reduce the effects of jet-lag.
These travel tips can help prevent or lessen any discomfort during your vacations. Being aware of the things mentioned will help you avoid aggravating any conditions you currently have and keep you from creating new ones. Being aware and planning ahead to keep yourself comfortable during your trips can alleviate the stress of traveling and make your vacation as fun and relaxing as you had planned on it being. Enjoy your time away!
As a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.
The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.