Jane Knight told her Telespine 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.”

Has this ever happened to you? Does your low back pain interfere with your vacation or business travel?

If so, you are not alone. Prolonged sitting, like we do when we travel, is a common cause of mechanical, or nonspecific, low back pain. When we sit for long periods of time, our spine is compressed, our hip flexors get tight, and our core gets weak.

Whether you are traveling by plane, train, or automobile, there are things that you can do to prevent back pain.

6 tips to keep your travels back pain free:

  1. Sit with good posture. Sitting with good posture will help to evenly distribute the weight of your upper body throughout your spine.
    • Learn more about the five steps to better posture here.
  2. Maintain neutral spine. Neutral spine is the natural inward curve in your lower back.
    • Try this: use a rolled towel at the small of your back to help maintain this natural curve and relieve pressure on your lower back.
  3. Contract your inner core. This will prevent your core from weakening and will protect your lower back from unnecessary wear and tear.
    • To contract your inner core, pull your bellybutton in towards your spine.
    • Practice this during your trip, aim to do this 20 times every few hours.
  4. Take frequent breaks. This is essential to prevent muscle imbalances in your hips and spine.
    • If you’re driving: stop every hour or two to stretch. Do 5-10 standing back extensions to put your spine in the opposite position of sitting.
    • If you’re flying: try to stand every hour. Request an aisle seat for easy access to stand up and stretch. As soon as the seatbelt sign goes off, get up to use the restroom and drink some water.
  5. Use good body mechanics when handling your luggage. Contract your inner core when lifting and bend your knees to lift rather than bending at the waist. Never twist through the spine.
    • Focus on pivoting your feet versus planting and twisting so your legs do the heavy lifting, not your lower back.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your luggage.
  6. Distribute loads evenly. Carrying a bag on one side of your body can lead to muscle imbalances and cause strain on your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
    • Avoid carrying heavy luggage or bags on one side of your body or be sure to switch between your arms often.
    • Consider using a messenger-style bag worn across the body or a backpack that distributes weight more evenly.
    • Try to keep your load light by only carrying the essentials.

When you reach your destination

After sitting for prolonged periods of time during your trip, make sure to spend some time stretching and moving once you reach your destination. Try going for a short walk or doing a few stretches that will help to put your body in the opposite position of sitting. While you’re on your trip, continue to work on these tips to prevent back pain.

These are some of the tips that Jane used to help prevent pain when she travels. After working through the stretches and exercises in her personalized Telespine program with the help of her Health Coach, she was able to take her annual family road trip. Pain-free.

Traveling and vacation should be about exploring new places and creating good memories. Don’t let back pain ruin your trip. Our Telespine Health Coaches have helped hundreds of people get back to doing the activities that they love, including traveling. We’d love to help you, too. Contact us for more information.

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