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How to Prevent Travel Aches and Pains

By Debra Rodzinak

With the holidays right around the corner, travel has become a part of many peoples' plans.  Whether it is by air, land, or sea, travel can be tough on the body.  Sitting for prolonged periods of time can leave a person feeling stiff, sore, tired, and stressed.  According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), when traveling long distances, even if in comfortable conditions, pressure and force from sitting in awkward positions can restrict the blood flow to the body, especially in the lower legs.

Warm Up to Sit Down

Just like with exercise, travelers should warm up before a trip on a plane or in a car.  Get the blood flowing to the muscles by taking a brisk walk and stretching the calf and hamstring muscles.    

Travel by Airplane

When going on a flight, follow these simple tips to prevent aches and pains:

  • Use a rolled-up towel or support pillow and place in the curve of the lower back.  Take another pillow and support the neck.
  • Don’t overpack suitcases.  Weigh them before you leave the house.  If a suitcase is heavier than 10 percent of your body weight, make sure to check the bag.  Do not lift the bag over your head to put it in the overhead bin.  This can cause muscle strain.
  • Take care when stowing bags under the seat in front of you.  Try not to twist or move in an awkward position.  Gently glide the bag underneath the seat in front of you once you are seated and use your hands and feet.
  • When seated, try to move occasionally to get the blood flowing to the extremities.  Massage the calves and legs to prevent leg cramps.  Raise feet off the floor and place on a book or a bag underneath the seat.
  • Do not sit under the air blower.  Cold air can cause tension in the neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Make sure the spine and joints are properly aligned before you travel with a trip to the chiropractor for a spinal adjustment.

Travel by Car

  • Sit as close to the steering wheel as possible.
  • Use a pillow or rolled up towel to provide support for the lower back.
  • Move the legs and toes as often as possible.  Roll the shoulders forward, then back.
  • Try to stop every hour or two if possible to take a walk break.
  • Grasp the steering wheel at the 3 and 7 o’clock position, then switch to the 10 and 5 o’clock position.
  • Be sure to visit the chiropractor for a spinal adjustment before traveling a long distance.  A properly aligned spine is the first step in preventing future aches and pains. 

If you are planning a long trip, drop by The Joint for a gentle spinal adjustment.  With no pesky insurance forms to fill out or appointment times to remember, getting your spine and back ready for a trip is easy and stress-free.


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