Vacation Travel Tips
Most vacations and long weekends involve travelling by car, RV, bus, train, or plane. The one factor all these methods of travel have in common is the need for prolonged periods of sitting.
The seated position is one of the most vulnerable positions for the spine. Add to that rough roads and sudden stops and it is not surprising that many people develop back and neck pain while travelling. Sleeping on planes, trains and buses also can precipitate neck problems.
There are a few simple rules that can help prevent back pain from spoiling your holiday. First, a series of stretching exercises before starting out is a good preventive measure. The most important muscles to stretch are the hip flexors. This can be done by lying on your back on a firm surface and pulling one knee at a time up to your chest, making sure the other leg is flat. This should be done once with each leg and should be held for 30 seconds.
While travelling it is advisable to take regular breaks from sitting. If travelling by private vehicle, stop at rest stops several times during the day and stretch. A good stretch to do next to the car is a variation on the fencers lunge. Place one hand on the car, a tree or some support. Stretch one leg back behind you, bending the front knee and keeping the back knee straight. Turn the toe of the back leg inward. You should feel a stretch in front of the hip joint of the back leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then do the same with the other leg. Follow this with a brief walk and you’ll be ready to resume your travelling feeling refreshed and more comfortable.
If travelling by plane or train, get up and move around as often as possible. Do the stretch described above if space permits.
To minimize neck pain when driving, make sure the seat is not too far back to rest your hands comfortably on the steering wheel without reaching. The seat should be as upright as possible. Always make sure the headrest is positioned properly behind the head to protect you in case of accidents. This will also support the neck for passengers who fall asleep in the car.
The best insurance against spending a holiday coping with neck or back pain is to see your family chiropractor before you start out. Spinal problems are present long before you feel the pain or discomfort and they can be corrected more easily if detected early. So have a spinal evaluation before you start out, and have a safe and relaxing holiday!