Published on July 24, 2012
Extended Periods of Travelling Can Lead to Low Back Pain
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When you are travelling it is very important to bring along a lumbar support roll for your low back and a cervical support for your neck. You should also make sure that your feet reach the floor and if they don’t use your carry-on luggage as a foot stool. Most plane, train and automobile seats are not very comfortable or built to ergonomically fit everyone’s body well. This is unlike when you buy a car, when you have an opportunity to choose the make and model that fits your body best.
Proper Back Alignment, Stretches & Other Ways to Loosen Your Hip Flexors
Not only is it important to ensure proper back alignment when seated and travelling, but it is crucial that you stand up from your seat and stretch as often as possible. Ideally, it is best to get up and move from your seat approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. Reaching up with your arms for the sky and stretching while inhaling is a great simple effective movement to counter the strain and stress of repeated bouts of sitting. As well, I truly endorse lunging as frequently as possible to stretch out the hip flexors which become tight and overused from repetitive sitting. The hip flexors attach to the low back and will cause spinal compression if these muscles are not re-lengthened from constant sitting posture. Another spine saving tip is to slightly recline your seat so you are not sitting perfectly straight and erect. This can be done in an airplane after you have taken off and is helpful in reducing spinal load to the discs.
It is also very important to focus on hydration when flying as the dry air and high air pressure can cause dehydration. Staying hydrated is key to ensuring that your muscles and spinal discs maintain proper fluidity for shock absorption. Avoid alcohol and caffeine on the plane which will cause further dehydration. I would recommend purchasing a large bottle of water prior to getting on the plane and focus on drinking throughout your flight. This will also cause you to have to get up and walk to the restroom which will keep you active.
Sitting for extended periods of time is very hazardous to your health as blood begins to pool in your legs. This can lead to a deep vein thrombosis otherwise known as a blood clot. Make sure to keep moving your legs while travelling to prevent this from happening. If you are prone to cardiovascular issues or swelling in your legs than it may be a great idea to consult with your physician prior to travelling. The use of compression socks or stockings can also be worn to help prevent this condition.
Lunges & Other Back Pain Tips when Travelling
Typically when travelling, people get thrown off their usual routine and forget about exercising. However, reducing your recurrence of low back pain involves a commitment to daily exercise. It is great if you can to book a hotel that has a gym so you can maintain your current routine. Otherwise you can go outdoors for walk, jog and or run to maintain your cardio while doing some very effective floor exercises in your hotel room in the attached document.
To prevent your low back pain from recurring it is very important that you do your exercises daily to activate and stabilize your body. Waking up these core muscles on a frequent basis has been shown to increase strength and power and prevent low back pain. As well, muscles begin to lose strength and power after few days of being inactive. Doing as little as 15 minutes daily while travelling of simple body weight exercises is enough to maintain your fitness level. High intensity workouts in short bursts has also been shown to enhance your cardiovascular fitness. Some very effective daily core activation exercises include walking lunges, lateral band walks, planks, side planks, bridges and cross-crawls.