Prevent Back Pain While Traveling

Prevent Back Pain While Traveling

As summer is approaching, many of us will be headed out with our families for a relaxing stay at the beach or sightseeing around the country. But all of those hours spent in a car or plane, heavy luggage, or the extra firm hotel mattresses can do a number to your back. Thankfully, there are easy steps you can take to make sure your fun and relaxing vacation doesn’t turn into a painful and frustrating ordeal.

One thing that almost everyone has to deal with, whether traveling far or near, is luggage. Most luggage today is made with wheels, so be sure to use them when you can. Also, when possible, distribute your heavier items between multiple suitcases to prevent one bag from being too heavy. When you have to pick your bag up from the ground, avoid bending at the waist. Instead, bend your knees and use your leg muscles while keeping your back straight. Avoid twisting your low back while holding your heavy luggage. If you are carrying a backpack, make sure to distribute the weight evenly on each side of your body by using the straps on both shoulders. Lastly, while going up and down stairs may be good exercise, consider using an elevator or escalator when when carrying your luggage to avoid extra stress on your back.

Long road trips means spending a lot of hours sitting. Prolonged sitting can be another cause of pain in your neck or low back. When sitting in a car or plane, try to remember to avoid sitting shifted towards the left or right. This won’t cause you much problems on a short trip across town, but can really start to bother you after longer distances. It is also a good idea to make a pit stop every 1-2 hours to stretch and walk around the car a few times. This will keep the muscles in your back and legs from getting too stiff. Using a small pillow for your neck and/or low back can help relieve the strain of sitting for long amounts of time. A pillow on your low back will help you sit with better posture and avoid hunching over.

Another frequent cause of low back pain on vacation is the mattress you sleep on. While some hotels offer high quality mattresses, the fact that your body is not used to the firmness or softness of that particular bed can still cause pain and discomfort. To help keep your spine in better alignment, try putting a pillow under your knees when lying on your back and between your knees when lying on your side. Also, bringing your own pillow may help prevent neck stiffness the next day.

If you’d like more information on how to prevent and/or treat back pain, contact DeSoto Physical Therapy at (318) 775-9870 in Stonewall or email