Ahhh…. Summer has come to Richmond, and many folks are making summer vacation plans. That means time spent driving and/ or flying to get to your desired destination. But no one wants to arrive at their favorite vacation spot only to be grounded by an angry back.
By popular request, this month’s article has some tips for traveling without wrecking your back.
1. If you have to walk with a suitcase, use a roller bag, and stand up straight to pull it along. Most roller bags have a long enough handle to fasten a briefcase and/ or purse on the bag as well, so that you have to carry nothing in your arms.
2. Keep carry-ons small so they can go under your seat, and you don’t have to lift anything overhead to place in an over-head bin.
3. Try “stretch-sitting.” This method was developed by Esther Gokhale, a licensed acupuncturist who literally traveled the world to learn how various societies seemed to thrive with no back pain. To “stretch-sit”, follow the steps below:
- Fold a hand towel and fasten it on your chair (perhaps via the head rest) so that your upper spine will rest along it.
- Scoot your bottom all the way back in the chair.
- Lean forward from the hips, rounding your upper back.
- Press into the arm rests of the chair (or the sides of the seat, if in a car) to create a little stretch in the lower back.
- Keeping the stretch, roll onto the seatback from your hips to “rebuild your spine,” being sure the towel is along your upper back.
- Roll each shoulder back, and allow the arms to rest along your sides.
- Tilt the chin slightly down to relax the neck.
You will need to re-position yourself periodically as gravity demands.
For more info on “stretch-sitting”, check out Esther Gokhale’s book, 8 Steps to a Pain-free Back.
4. Tilt the seat back (if you can) to take pressure off the disc system.
5. Walk around. (Of course, if on a plane, wait until the Fasten Seatbelt sign is turned off). If you’re in the car, take periodic rest breaks to stand up, stretch and walk around.
6. Drink water. Although many travelers avoid this to minimize pit stops, staying hydrated is important for disc and muscle health.
There’s no perfect formula to traveling pain-free, but the above tips should help. Once you reach your destination, stretching and moving will continue to be important. Do your best to minimize sitting and walk as much as you can after traveling. If you have tips you would like to add, please feel free to post them here.
Safe travels, and enjoy your trip!