The holiday always means plenty of travel, and it can also be a time when the back pain will start. Advanced Physical Therapy offers the kind of physical therapy in Gilbert AZ that people trust, and we take great pride in making sure our patients always get the best possible advice. While we are always here for you if you ever need physical therapy for back pain, we do offer these ‘Tips for Traveling’ as pain-free as possible.
Moving that Luggage
Your luggage becomes one of the biggest potential sources of back injuries whenever you travel on vacation. Most people try to put as much as possible into one suitcase to avoid paying extra luggage fees, and that is where the problems begin. When you lift that heavy suitcase, do so using your knees and your legs. Never bend at your waist to lift your luggage.
If your carry-on is especially heavy, then get someone to help you put it in the overhead compartment. When you need to turn while you are carrying your luggage, turn your entire body instead of just turning at the waist. Always distribute luggage weight evenly between both arms, and do everything you can to keep the heavier items as close to your body as possible.
For Long Plane Rides
For those long plane rides, bring a pillow for lumbar support in your lower back and get a special airplane pillow to support your head while you sleep. If you are unable to support your feet by placing them of the floor of the plane while you are seated, then bring a small beach ball you can use to take the pressure off of your spine.
If you are able to, you should get up and stretch as often as possible. Everyone likes the window seat because of the view, but the aisle seat will allow you to stretch out and avoid leg cramps. Always be mindful of your posture when you are awake and attempt to sit as upright as possible to avoid shoulder and neck pain.
The best part about plane travel advice is that it also applies to the train and bus as well. If you know you will be sitting in one seat for hours, then you need to prepare to avoid painful results.
Quick Pain Relief
If you do find yourself feeling some discomfort while you are traveling, then getting up and stretching can be more helpful that you would thing. Slowly reaching up and then reaching side to side can relieve lower back pain and get those annoying cramps out of your legs.
Many people think they are fine until they get to their hotel and the effects of those hours in the air hit them. For quick pain relief, a soothing shower or whirlpool bath (if your room has one) can give instant results. You should also try getting two washcloths and running one with warm water and the other with cold. Place the washcloths alternately on the painful area every 20 minutes and refresh them each time before using them.
Just because you are seated for most of the time you travel does not mean your feet cannot hurt. Then there are those unexpected moments when you have to stand in the airport train to go between terminals after you just flew for several hours. For an extra level of protection, you should consider bring comfortable shoes specifically for the time you will spend traveling.
Your traveling shoes are comfortable, have a supportive arch and well-designed soles. Modern tennis or basketball shoes often work great in this instance, and you can also rely on those modern sports shoes to make those long walks around the amusement park more bearable as well. You never know when you will suddenly have to stand for long periods of time while traveling or when your feet will be placed in awkward positions as you try to make room in your seat. It is always best to be prepared and wear shoes that will take the pain away.
Call Ahead if You Have To
Some of our patients have severe back issues that can make travel difficult. One way to combat that problem is to fly first class, but that is not always an option because of the price. We recommend to our clients that they call the airline ahead of time and see if they can make any arrangements for your back issues. Sometimes airlines will make sure that you get the seat near the emergency exit where there is the most leg room, or they can make other arrangements to help make your flight more comfortable.
Bring Pain Relief Medication after Consulting with Your Doctor
While we try to stay away from pain medication, we understand that alleviating pain is a critical need. We recommend that you consult with one of our experts to determine what over-the-counter medication would be best for your trip. We will offer you the best advice you can get, and we will also alert you to options to pain medication as well.
Traveling for hours in a plane, bus or train can be very painful if you don’t know how to do it. At Advanced Physical Therapy, we believe that loading our patients up with good advice on handling the pain from travel helps to make everyone’s trip that much better.