How can I prevent pain while traveling?
- Bring a neck pillow- this helps to prevent an unnatural position of the neck while sleeping, which can cause tightness in the neck muscles, potentially leading to pain
- Use a lumbar roll- ask the stewardess for a blanket, roll it and place in behind your low back. This will help to keep the spine in alignment and take stress off of the neck and the back
- Avoid prolonged sitting- get up every 15-20 minutes if possible and walk the aisle or to the restroom. If you are unable to get up from your seat, straighten and bend the knee and pump the foot up and down to increase blood flor and decrease muscle stiffness
- Alternate the shoulder you are carrying luggage on from time to time and/or utilize a suitcase with wheels
- Stretch neck muscles side to side and over each shoulder throughout your flight
- Assume proper position of your feet, knees and hips while sitting: feet should be firmly placed flat on the ground with weight equally distributed, knees should be bent to 90 degrees and hips should be flexed to 90 degrees
- Avoid resting magazines or books on fold out tray; instead hold them at eye level to avoid excessive neck flexion
- Avoid heavy luggage that will need to be lifted into overhead bins and up and down stairs; instead pack several lighter bags if possible
- Use proper lifting techniques when moving luggage:
- Keep the suitcase or bag close to your body
- Bend at your knees and lift from your legs and not from your back
- Avoid twisting the spine and instead pivot the feet when turning
The author of this article is Lindsay Cullen, PT, DPT from Athletico – Gold Coast.