Traveling should be a fun experience, but for many people, it can be an uncomfortable, daunting situation. Virtually everyone at some time or another will be affected by back pain, but for some individuals, the pain in their back can be so unbearable that they delay or even cancel their travel plans. Whether you experience back pain from something as mild as a muscle strain resulting from poor posture to more serious conditions, such as sciatica or slipped discs, there are several things you can do to ease or even alleviate the pain while traveling. Here are a few of the most effective tips.
Before the Trip
If you have a chronic problem, such as disc protrusion or ruptured discs, the first thing you should do is consult with your physician at Capital City Neurosurgery to ensure that you are approved for travel. This is also a good first place to start as your physician might be able to recommend medications or other medical aids that could improve your comfort while traveling. Other things to do before your trip should include:
- Purchase travel insurance in case you decide at the last minute that your back pain is too severe to travel.
- If your traveling includes flying, request an aisle seat or a row with extra leg room. This will make it easier for you to get in and out and provide extra room to stretch out.
- Avoid doing any strenuous activities that may worsen your back pain for at least a week before your trip.
- If you take prescription medications for your back pain, make sure you pack enough for the entire trip. Pack medications in your carry-on luggage and make sure they are in the original containers.
- When booking hotel rooms, if there isn’t an elevator available, request rooms on the first floor and make sure to verify how far the attractions are from the hotel.
To reduce stress-induced back pain, it is best to pack a couple of days in advance. Load your luggage in the car the day before your due to travel and if traveling by plane or train, request assistance with your luggage at the curb. Pack as light as possible, using more than one bag if necessary. It will be much easier to carry two light bags than one extremely heavy bag. Lift your luggage correctly by using your legs instead of your back to lift and avoid twisting your lower back while lifting.
Automobile, Train or Plane
Regardless of how you are traveling, whether it be in a car, by train or flying, stretch your back and legs before sitting.
If traveling by car, adjust your seat so that you can lean back rather than hunching forward. Stop about every two to three hours and get out and walk around. Don't keep your cellphone or wallet in your back pocket because it could misalign your spine. Sit straight with knees slightly higher than your hips and your chin pulled in to help keep your head positioned straight on your spine.
If traveling by plane, tilt the seat back as soon as you are given permission. Use a small travel pillow behind your lower back and shoulders to help keep your spine aligned. Get up and walk around at least once every two hours, as permitted.
When traveling by train make frequent trips to the observation deck, the dining car or simply walk in the aisles. Adjust your seat to the most comfortable position and, if you are in a sleeping car, make sure to use a pillow between your knees to support your hips.
Regardless of the form of transportation, make sure your back is aligned against the seat. If necessary, you can add extra support, preferably something with memory foam or gel-filled materials. Sitting with correct posture will help to alleviate the pain. You should always sit with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your shoulders relaxed.
To learn more information about traveling with back pain or to find out about the treatment options available for your specific problem, contact Capital City Neurosurgery.