It’s the time of year to make travel plans for spring and summer vacations. But if you suffer from back pain, just the thought of travel can be discouraging.
If you’ve ever aggravated painful areas in your back and neck by sitting for hours at a time in uncomfortable seats you know what I’m talking about.
Whether you’re a daily commuter, recreational traveler, or travel for business, unless you take precautions, back pain can ruin your trip.
The following simple tips can help you reduce or avoid back pain when traveling.
#1: Avoid stress by planning ahead
Plan your vacation ahead of time. If you have a severe health condition contact your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to travel.
Pack your bags a few days before the trip and load your suitcases into the car the night. This will reduce stress related muscle cramps and back pain from exertion right before your trip.
Reserve your seat online and check your luggage at the curb to avoid the stress and anxiety of rushing around or standing in line.
#2: Pack light to prevent muscle strains
Heavy bags can aggravate back pain and strain your muscles and joints if you’re not used to the physical exertion. Make things easier on yourself by using a suitcase with wheels and a handle for rolling it.
Use a few smaller bags instead of stuffing one large suitcase which will be difficult for you to carry up stairs, lug around from place to place, and lift into and out of the car.
If you must bring a lot of heavy luggage, take advantage of the services of the airport baggage handler, taxi driver, and hotel bellhop.
#3: Use back and neck supports
Your lower back and neck can suffer if your car, train, or airplane seat fails to provide adequate support, so bring along a lumbar support pillow to make your seat more comfortable and add critical support for your lower back.
Avoid neck strain with a neck support pillow. Inflatable travel pillows for head support are inexpensive, light, and easy to travel with. You’ll find the extra head support while resting or sleeping on long trips to be a life saver. By the way, don’t count on airlines to have a pillow available on every flight these days either.
It may be more expensive, but the extra legroom found in business or first class may be worth it for your comfort. Especially so if you have a long flight.
#4: Stretch to stay limber
For long trips be sure to get up and move around as frequently as possible, preferably every hour. Stand up, stretch, twist, and bend to ensure muscles throughout your body get refreshed.
Simply moving your muscles this way stimulates blood flow, bringing important nutrients and oxygen to tired muscles. Remember, simply holding the same position for extended periods is a major cause of muscle imbalances and lower back pain.
If you can manage just a few minutes of movement and stretching every hour it will prevent soft tissues in your lower back from stiffening and aching.
#5: Remain well hydrated
You can easily avoid dehydration, a common cause of back pain when traveling, if you remember to drink enough water during long trips.
Fluids are necessary to keep your body cool, your blood moving, your muscles supple and your tendons relaxed and pain free. And nothing replenishes the fluid in your body like good old water.
You can reduce your chance of back pain on long trips by avoiding tea, coffee, and alcohol which can secretly leave you dehydrated.
Quick Remedies for Back Pain Relief
If you experience a flare up of back pain while traveling, fill a plastic bag with ice and apply to the painful area. A cold pack is one of the fastest ways to get relief.
Hot packs and heat wraps can provide hours of comfort during lengthy trips too. Try alternating heat and ice for 10-15 minutes each to break the cycle of even the most severe muscle spasms.
Be sure to pack along a natural pain relief cream that can offer fast relief from unexpected pain. Our new formula Rub-On-Relief comes in a newly redesigned 3oz tube so you can even take it along in your carryon bag during your next flight.
Vacation Friendly Destinations for Back Pain Sufferers
Choose a vacation destination that’s easy for you to get around. Clearly you’re likely to be more comfortable walking a little bit around flat ground instead of hiking miles through hills, so plan accordingly.
When you reach your destination relax your muscles with a bubble bath or shower. Consider getting a massage from an on-site masseuse, but be sure to let him or her know of any specific medical issues in advance such as back surgeries you’ve had.
Schedule your vacation activities to allow plenty of time for rest and stretch breaks. Get in the pool while on vacation – water play is wonderful for an aching back.
Obviously, exercise common sense (and the many signs reminding us to do so). For example, stay off Disney’s Space Mountain if you’re having lower back pain. The It’s a Small World ride might be more your speed for this trip.
We all deserve a relaxing vacation every now and then. By taking proper precautions a great vacation is possible even for those with severe back pain. Of course, it’s never too early to learn how to get rid of back pain so you can travel without it next time!
Written By: Updated: April 4,2011