Over the past 30 years, I have given much advice to my patients on how toenjoy their travel time and not worry about aggravating their neck or lower back when they are supposed to be having fun or on a business trip. I hope that you will find this information useful the next time that you travel by car, plane or any other mode of transportation. Feel free to share with friends and family.
Tips for Travel:
- Support Your Lower Back- When sitting for long periods of time it is necessary that you bring an arched cushion to place behind your lower back in order to help maintain the normal lower back arch of the spine. Some cars have a lumbar setting that you can adjust to do this. While on a plane, you can ask the flight attendant for a small pillow to place in the arch of your lower back.
- Rest & Stretch- The muscles we have in our neck and back require rest and can be injured if we prolong the use of them, such as sitting or standing for long periods of time. When on a long trip in a car, plane or motorcycle, always stretch and exercise your limbs in order to give them rest and prevent blood clots. It is my opinion that you do this every hour. Progressive-resistant exercise is a great way to protect your body and maintain proper blood flow to the limbs. Of course, don’t exercise while driving, please wait until you can switch drivers. Simply stretch arms and legs forward, one at a time, and contract the muscles while fully extended. Do not do toe touching exercises as this reverses the arch of the lower back and can actually aggravate it. Be careful not to over stretch as this can cause cramping.
- Bring Your Own Pillow- I recommend that all patients bring their own pillows when traveling if possible as most hotel pillows are too big, soft or flat and can aggravate your neck and upper back. The pillow you sleep on should keep your head parallel to the mattress and support your neck and upper back.
- Support Your Neck & Upper Back- Most cars have headrests in them as required by law and it is important that they are elevated to the right height in order to protect our neck and upper back in case of an automobile collision.
- Hydrate- When on a long trip I recommend that you hydrate your body with water and Power Aid-like drinks to keep the necessary potassium, calcium and electrolytes in your system. This will make it less possible to develop cramps.
Don’t forget to buckle up and have a fun and safe trip!