Protecting Your Spine During Thanksgiving Travel
Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Thanksgiving week is upon us, and that means millions of people will soon be taking planes, trains and automobiles to visit friends and family. We’ve talked about how the Thanksgiving holiday can trigger back pain in the past, but today, we’re going to hyperfocus on the travel aspect of Thanksgiving or any holiday where you’re going to spend a significant amount of time in a seated position.
Preventing Spine Pain When Traveling For The Holidays
When it comes to preventing back pain flareups during your holiday travels, it really comes down to planning ahead well before you hop in the car or board the plane. Here’s a look at the things you should be doing to prevent back pain leading up to and during your holiday travels.
- Days Before – In the days before you leave, make sure your prescriptions are filled and you’re stocked up on over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. This isn’t a huge deal if you’re only going for the day, but if you’re going to be away from home for a while, you’re not going to want to go through the hassle of trying to get your prescription filled at a new pharmacy. Similarly, stock up on OTC medications to help stay ahead of back pain if you know long periods of sitting can trigger a flareup. Some drivers like to put a small towel behind their lumbar spine for support when in the car, and some flight passengers prefer a small pillow to help support their cervical spine during their travels. Get these items set aside or packed now so they don’t get overlooked the day of.
- The Day Of – On the day you’re set to leave, be sure to get ready with plenty of time to spare. In fact, consider leaving 10-15 minutes earlier than normal so you have time set aside to break up the trip with some stretching and movement. Stretching is also a good idea before you get in the car or board the plane, so take a couple minutes to stretch your spine and get healthy blood pumping. If you’re riding in a car, find a spot and get comfortable. If you’re riding in a plane, consider whether an aisle or window seat would be best during booking. Many people with back pain prefer an aisle seat so they can get up and move more easily when the captain removes the seat belt sign. Be sure to pack some water, as staying hydrated will help increase blood flow to your spine and prevent muscle spasms. Finally, take your medications to stay ahead of your pain.
- During Your Travels – During your travels, it’s imperative to get up and stretch whenever possible. If you left early or picked an aisle seat, this will be easier to do. Stretching helps to keep muscles from becoming overstressed, which can happen if they are held in the same position for an extended period of time. It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of performing regular posture checks, because even though we’re seated and have back support, we often find that we’re craning forward to read a book or look at our phones, and that can trigger neck pain. Whether you’re driving or riding, strive to keep your head positioned directly above your shoulders to limit the stress on your neck.
If you keep these tips in mind when traveling for Thanksgiving or for the holidays, we’re confident that you’ll reduce your risk of spine pain. But if something pops up on your trip, or you want a consultation before you take off, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.