avoid neck and back pain while travelling - pack lighter

Taking a Trip? Pack These Healthy Back Tips with You!

At Mind Body Spine chiropractic in Victoria BC, the topic of maintaining a healthy spine while travelling comes up quite frequently, especially with patients who are already more prone to having neck and back pain issues – without the added complications of long flights and car rides that come with travelling.

When our patients ask us about how to make sure their back, neck, and shoulders stay pain-free while they are on holiday or away on business, we share with them the following back and neck care tips for travelling:

Before Your Trip

  • Pack Lightly – Even if your luggage comes with wheels, pack as lightly as you can so you struggle less when handling your bags. If packing lightly isn’t an option, opt for two or three smaller bags instead of a single large, heavy bag. If you can swing it, consider shipping some items to your destination ahead of time.
  • Backpack Usage – If you’ll be bringing a backpack, avoid slinging it over one shoulder if it’s packed full. Use a high-quality backpack, which will be more comfortable and ergonomic. Remember that the maximum weight of a loaded backpack is around 10-15% of your body weight (even less than that if you have back issues already).
  • Buy Extra Leg Room – If you’re prone to lower back pain at the best of times, consider springing for a seat with extra leg room on your flight. It might feel indulgent at the time, but your comfort is worth it. At the very least, try to get an aisle seat to allow for easier, more frequent stand-up breaks.
  • Chiropractic Treatments – In the days leading up to your trip, book a chiropractic treatment with your local chiropractor to reduce the chances of experiencing any discomfort while out of town. Spinal decompression is great before and after a long flight, for example.

Getting to Your Destination

  • Ask for Assistance – Whenever possible, ask for assistance from airport and hotel staff, particularly with retrieving your luggage off the baggage claim belt and when lifting carry-on bags above you in an airplane.
  • Lift Smartly – You’ve probably heard the one about lifting with your knees and not with your back – this rule certainly applies to large suitcases. When lifting your bag or a family member’s bags, assume the bag is going to be heavy, think through each motion, power through your knees, move large items in stages, and never rush.
  • Support Your Neck and Back – Add something to support your lower back and neck during long flights and car rides. It can be as easy as using a pillow, a bunched up sweatshirt, or an actual lumbar support or neck pillow. Recline your seat slightly to take pressure off the spine.
  • Keep Knees Uncrossed – Keeping your knees at a right angle and your feet supported can help reduce stress on your lower back. If your seat is too high, find a makeshift footrest like a book or box, which will help keep your knees at a right angle.
  • Move Around – Get up and move around every so often during long flights. You’ll do this instinctively, so it might go without saying, but stretch, stand up for awhile if possible, and walk up and down the aisles to ease the discomforts of sitting too long. If you’re driving, make use of the rest stops every couple of hours at minimum.
  • Stay Hydrated – Even though stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld mocks this piece of practical advice, we still find it worth mentioning that constantly drinking water helps ease all kinds of health problems while travelling, especially headaches associated with dehydration.

During Your Trip

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes – These are essential if you’ll be out exploring new areas by foot.
  • Stretches and Exercises – Your chiropractor can give you stretches and exercises that are tailored just for you before going on your holiday to help ease tight muscles or pain.
  • Hotel Gyms & Swimming Pools – Your hotel or resort likely has a fitness gym, or a fitness class schedule. Take advantage of these perks.
  • Treat Pain Immediately – Don’t ignore the first signs of back pain. Take frequent breaks, use ice packs or heating pads if possible, and make sure to keep moving in a pain free range of motion if possible.

If you’ve followed the tips above and still feel pain and discomfort in your back and neck – and a day of rest at the hotel spa hasn’t helped – it might be time to see a chiropractor while travelling.

Whether it is for business or pleasure, if you travel frequently, following our tips will help reduce the risk of jeopardizing your spinal health in the process.

Dr. Stephanie Louie at Mind Body Spine is a Victoria, BC, chiropractor accepting new patients. Whether you’re a resident of Victoria or just travelling through and need chiropractic care, call Mind Body Spine at 250-885-2320 to book your next chiropractic appointment with Dr. Louie.