When you're traveling, sitting for long periods and carrying luggage are just a few things that can cause back pain to flair up. Fortunately, a lot of back problems can be avoided if you know how to stave them off. Here are some great tips for having a pain-free vacation.
Pack Several Small Suitcases
If you're traveling by car or other transportation that doesn't charge per suitcase, consider dividing your things into several smaller suitcases instead of one larger one to make them easier to carry and lift. Also, make sure they weigh about the same so that the weight will be evenly distributed as you carry them.
Lift Luggage Properly
For those with back problems, the thought of loading and unloading luggage can feel daunting. But there are a couple of ways to handle your luggage that can help prevent problems, starting with lifting the luggage in stages. For instance, when placing suitcases in a trunk, lift them onto a stool or chair first, then re-grip and lower them into the trunk. When storing luggage in overhead compartments, you can do the same thing by using the seat in front of you. Use these additional tips when lifting luggage:
Bring Feet Support
When sitting in seats that can't easily be raised or lowered, you may want to consider bringing something to place your feet on to reduce strain on the lower back. Ideally, your hips and knees should be at a 90-degree angle. Avoid crossing your legs, and keep your feet as flat as possible.
Bring Back Support
Whether you're traveling by plane, train, car, or bus, you probably won't have adequate back support. Also, the chairs and couches where you stay will be different than what you're used to at home. To help with this, use a special lumbar support pillow that's designed to keep the back in a natural position. Without proper support, muscles can cramp up, which can lead to disc problems as well as pain down the legs. Neck pillows can also help alleviate strain if you plan to sleep upright while traveling.
If you don't have lumbar support, you can roll up a sweater, jacket, or small blanket and place it at the curve of your back for proper positioning. If you don't even have that, try sitting as upright as possible and keep your lower back from slouching in the seat.
If you battle chronic back pain, movement is your friend. While it may not be realistic to stop every 10–15 minutes when driving long distances, you should get up and move around that often if you're on a plane or bus. This keeps the muscles in the back limber and can prevent cramping. If you are driving, stop as often as possible, even if it's just for a two-minute stretch. Also, adjusting the seat so that it's close to the steering wheel provides the best position to avoid shoulder and back strain.
Sleep in the Correct Position
There's nothing like the comforts of home, and this is especially true when it comes to your bed. If you find that your mattress leaves a little to be desired, try these tips to help avoid waking up with back pain:
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