You and your family are tired of being cooped up inside and repeating the same routine day after day. So you decide to hit the road, or the rails, or the air, and venture somewhere new.
If you have back pain, though, your travel plans might be complicated by sitting or standing for long periods of time, putting pressure on your lower spine.
Jocelyn R. Idema, DO, our expert orthopedic surgeon at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center, recommends these tips for traveling in comfort.
Keep your meds handy
If you need to take medications for back pain, make sure you have enough to last the whole trip, and carry them with you. Keep medications in their original bottles if you’re going through airport security.
Be the lone roamer
Hit the road when traffic’s low, early in the morning or later at night. If everyone else is headed to the beach, aim for the mountains. Reserve national holidays for staycations in your home. Travel at times when others are more likely to stay put.
Choose the aisle
When you’re able to travel by plane, train, or bus, sitting on the aisle seat gives you a tad more room. You can briefly stretch out your legs into the aisle itself (if nobody’s around). You also don’t have to climb over other people when you need to use the restroom, take a brief walk, or stretch.
Break it up
Speaking of stretching, take 5-minute stretching or walking breaks every 30 minutes whenever possible. Though it may slow down your trip when you’re driving, it’s not only important for your back’s health to stretch regularly, but also for your overall health.
Taking 5-minute breaks from driving every 30 minutes or switching with another driver also reduces your chances of getting sleepy behind the wheel.
Exercise a bit
Between stretch breaks, you can do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and your back muscles. Kegel exercises are good for bladder control, too.
Simply tilting your pelvis forward, then relaxing can ease pain and increase circulation to the area. Even tensing your leg and foot muscles for a few seconds, then releasing, can make you feel more comfortable and get your blood flowing
Once you arrive at your destination, don’t jam in too many activities. Schedule breaks so you can rest or stretch when you need to. Plan your days with time to spare so you don’t get stressed trying to do it all.
If you have a meditation or deep-breathing practice, leave time for that too to minimize travel stress. If you don’t have a meditation or deep-breathing practice, your vacation could be a good time to start.
Be a self-spa
Give yourself the equipment you need to stay comfy both on the road and off. Neck pillows, inflatable lumbar pillows, and foam rollers should be among your must-haves to give yourself support and roll away tension and pain when it strikes.
If you’re going someplace with electricity, bring a heating pad. You can also wear heat patches during the day to keep your muscles warm and relaxed.
Talk to your doctor
Increase your chances of traveling in comfort by getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your back pain. If you have back pain, call us today or use our handy online system to request an appointment for back pain diagnosis or treatment.
We have offices in McKees Rocks, Pittsburgh, and Washington, Pennsylvania.