Does your low back pain interfere with the joys of your travel? Traveling and vacation should not be about suffering and pain, but about exploring new places and creating good memories. While traveling can wreak havoc on your back, there are proactive steps you can take to prevent lower back pain during prolonged sitting. Read on to learn tips on how to get through long periods of sitting during car journeys and air flights.
Jane Knight told our BackChat Health Coach, “Twenty minutes into driving I start to feel this dull ache in my lower back. By the time I get to my destination I can hardly stand up straight.” Jane is not alone. In fact, more than 80% of adults experience low back pain in a lifetime. The good news is that you can take charge of your back health and stop pain today. Through stretches and tips advised by her BackChat Health Coach, Jane was able to take her annual family road trip pain-free. These guidelines and tips will not only help you to prevent acute back pain, but will aid in healing your back long term as well.
Tips to survive long periods of driving:
- Make sure you are sitting all the way back in your seat with your entire backside and shoulder blades up against the seat
- Check that your knees are the same level, or lower than your hips
- Keep the natural curve in your lower back (this is a slight natural curve inward that occurs when you sit upright). You can use a BackJoy SitSmart product or a rolled up towel to help maintain the natural curve in your lower back. This will help relieve your lower back from too much pressure.
- Make sure to stop every hour or two to stretch your back. This is essential to prevent muscle imbalances in your hips and spine. Each time you stop, do 5-10 standing back extensions to put your spine in the opposite position of sitting.
- Contract your inner core (called bracing) throughout the road trip. This will prevent your core from weakening as well as protect your lower back from unnecessary wear and tear. Health Coach Tip: Every hour contract your inner core 20 times.
Tips to survive air travel:
- Request an aisle seat for easy access to stand up and stretch. As soon as the seat belt sign goes off, get up to use the restroom and drink some water.
- Try to stand every hour if possible.
- Sit with good posture to evenly distribute the weight of your upper body throughout your spine. Follow the guidelines found in the blog, 5 Steps to Better Sitting Posture.
- Be sure to take extra precautions when handling your luggage such as never twisting through the spine whilst lifting and always lift with your legs. Instead of planting your feet and twisting, pivot on your feet in order for your legs to do the heavy lifting and not your lower back.
- You may have a fashionable bag to sling over one shoulder, but that can lead to muscle imbalances and too much strain on your neck, shoulders and lower back. The solution: a backpack-just be sure to pack light.
- Once you land make sure to stretch and rejuvenate your back from all that sitting. Foam rollers are great for stretching out muscles. When luggage is tight Roller Balls or other portable massage balls are smart options to carry along.
In addition to sitting with good posture, taking frequent standing breaks is one of the most important activities you can do to help prevent back pain during long periods of sitting. When you reach your destination, take 5-10 minutes a day to work on your core exercises and lower back stretches. Walking is also extremely good for your back, just be sure to wear supportive shoes. Have a great summer and safe travels!