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Travel Tips to Avoid Back Pain, So You Can Enjoy Your Summer Break

June 28, 2016 in Article, Low-Back Pain, Physical Therapy, Seasonal, Tips,
Posted by Michael W. Hasz
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Traveling to exotic destinations during the summer is certainly exciting, but getting there can sometimes be a literal pain. While training as an Air Force Flight Surgeon I learned that airplane seats have been designed with safety in mind -- but not necessarily for comfort. Many airline seats lack lumbar support and ultimately place your back in an uncomfortable 'C' position. Additionally, adequate legroom is hard to come by for most travelers, especially for those over 6 feet tall.  Follow these travel tips to ensure a safe and fun summer vacation!

BEFORE THE FLIGHT, TRY THESE TIPS:

•    Book an aisle seat. This makes it so much easier for when you need to get in and out and can give you more room if you need to stretch out a bit.
•    Pack as lightly as possible, especially if you are carrying your luggage. If possible use a carry-on with wheels.
•    Pack some relaxing music to listen to. This can help you relax more and ease tension and stress which can exacerbate pain.
•    Drink plenty of water. Altitude changes can cause dehydration! Try to avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as these will dehydrate you further.

REMEMBER TO GET YOUR BLOOD FLOWING:

•    Move about the cabin when appropriate and stretch every hour or so
•    Do some calf squeezes
•    Move your ankles in a circular motion

DIY: CREATE YOUR OWN LUMBAR SUPPORT:

•    Carry on a small towel, t-shirt, or blanket
•    Roll your item of choice and place is in the small of your back
•    Roll it with enough thickness so that your knees are not being pushed forward
•    Since each chair is different, and each person’s lumbar lordosis (curve in the low back) is different, one size does not fit all; just try it until it feels right.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE LONG CAR TRIPS?

•    Take frequent breaks at rest stops. Be sure to stretch and move around.
•    Remove your cell phone and/or wallet from your back pocket. Leaving these items in your pocket can create an abnormal sitting position which can exacerbate your discomfort.
•    Make use of your car’s lumbar support. If your car does not provide adequate support, try rolling up a shirt or small towel.
•    Utilize heated seat feature (when available) to help ease back pain.
•    Share the driving role whenever possible.
•    Maintain good posture.

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