The Holiday Rat Race: The Keys to Painless Travel


Planes, Trains, Minivans and Busses Oh My!

[pmc_box border_color=”#adadad” text_color=”#000″ background_color=”#ededed” ]No matter if it is road, rail or air travel, long hours can leave anyone stressed, tired, stiff and sore. Read travel tips for arriving in better shape, and how to maintain your neck and back during the in a relaxed and pain-free state![/pmc_box]
AirportTis the season to travel! According to AAA, 43.4 million Americans traveled last Thanksgiving, and 94.5 million traveled during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season. These travel statistics reflect journeys of more than 50 miles from home. Chances are you will be traveling this holiday season!

Many Americans routinely travel for business and some even take the family on vacation to distant destinations. No matter if it is road, rail or air travel, long hours can leave anyone stressed, tired, stiff and sore. Add the usual travel ingredients of kids, bad weather, mechanical problems or delays, and soon people begin to question if the trip was worth it in the first place! How many times have you said, “I will never do this again”?

These stresses have a cumulative effect on the body. By the time you arrive at your destination, you are stiff, sore, and may even have the dreaded “pinched nerve” or “catch” in the back/neck. If the journey was particularly rigorous, it may be all of the above!

There is hope for your body during this travel season. By following these helpful tips, you can skip the aches and pains of the typical holiday travel and maximize your holiday enjoyment. Unfortunately, there is little we can do help with crazy families!

The Strain of Sitting

Dog-CarPrior to long trips, it is always a good idea to get your spine aligned. By starting out properly aligned, you reduce the chances of muscle discomfort. Dr. Davis can ensure you are prepared to handle the rigors of travel before your journey begins!

Prolonged inactivity like sitting can wreak havoc on your body. Certain pressures and forces from awkward positions can put unaccustomed stress on the muscles, bones and nervous system. Cramped conditions can restrict the blood flow, building up pressure in the blood vessels of the lower legs. This can lead to blood clot formation.

Travel requires strength, endurance, a warm up as well as a cool down…like exercise. By properly preparing your body for the rigors of travel, you can enhance the experience and limit the negative impact on your body. Make several trips to load and unload. Once you reach your destination, take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles. Be sure to get the blood pumping to reduce the muscle soreness and joint stiffness. It is always a good idea to get checked out after travel to prevent minor issues from getting worse! Dr. Davis can ensure you are properly aligned, so your nervous system is fully functional and the aches and pains resolve without lasting harm!

Travel by Airplane

Neck SupportIf you take the time to examine the spine, you will note that there are built in “S” curves. Proper sitting posture supports these natural curves and prevents shifting of the vertebrae which leads to muscle discomfort and pain.

Use supportive travel pillows, or rolled-up pillows/blankets to maintain these curves when you sit. Tuck a pillow behind the lumbar area just above the beltline. A supportive travel pillow is well worth the investment, filling the gap between your neck and the headrest.

Head bobbing while sleeping in an airplane seat causes sore neck muscles. Airline seats are hollowed from wear which encourages slouching leading to low back pain. Use folded blankets to raise your buttocks and cushion your tailbone.

For carry-on luggage, stand in front of the overhead bin and avoid twisting while lifting. Try to keep your entire spine rotation free and your weight evenly distributed between your legs. If the bags are excessively weighty, ask for assistance. Checking your bags can save your spine!

Sitting on an airplane seat… A form of slow torture?!?

Airplane-SeatGetting situated
Do not force objects under seats with an awkward twisting motion. Instead, sit in your seat, and gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you. Be sure you leave ample leg room so your feet are flat on the cabin floor and can move. There is little enough room on a commercial air flight so why make it more cramped?

When Seated
While seated, especially for flights over 30 minutes, change your position occasionally to improve circulation and prevent muscle cramping. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in towards your chest, and move your knees up and down. Get up and move about the cabin. Do not sit directly under the air vents as cold air blowing directly on the neck and shoulders can lead to tension in neck and shoulder muscles. Recirculated air has also been shown to be laden with many microbes and allergens.

Arrival and baggage claim
Take time to warm up the body once you arrive at the airport after a flight. Stop off at the restroom on the way to the baggage claim. Allow time for muscles to get used to exercise demand after being cramped in the tight confines of the airline seat. Experience has taught you that there is a minimum wait of 15-30 minutes before your luggage will arrive at the carousel.

Air Travel Re-cap

[info icon=”fa-bolt”]33%
Of kids from 16 to 24 experienced back pain in the past year… It’s not just adults that need to be adjusted prior to and after a rigorous journey![/info]

Be sure to get aligned prior to your flight. Employ the travel tips mentioned above to limit possible insults to your spine. You will arrive at your destination needing spinal realignment. Most people get caught up in family holiday obligations putting off a visit to the chiropractor. Strange beds, bad pillows, lugging kids around all combine with the misalignments making pain and discomfort almost a given. We looking forward to seeing you as soon as you get back! Compounding problems lead to increasing discomfort and require more adjustments to resolve. Early correction means fewer symptoms, less time investment and more money in your pocket!

Travel by road

DrivingWhen Driving
Sit as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible, with knees slightly higher than your hips. Sitting too far away from the pedals encourages slouching. This in turn leads to loss of the lumbar curve, muscle fatigue, and the possibility of shifting bones and pain. Remember proper posture for the spine!

Using a back support may reduce the incidence of low-back strain and pain. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline. Many cars have adjustable lumbar support. Lumbar support pillows designed for use in cars are a very good investment.

Use the cruise control and carefully exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of leg discomfort. Spread your toes as wide as you can, holding the position for a few seconds. Tighten and relax your calf, thigh muscles, and gluteal muscles. Roll your shoulders forward and back and stretch your neck, while keeping your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
Loosen and tighten your grip on the steering wheel to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands.

The Difference… Recapping

[info icon=”fa-bolt”]80%
According to the CDC, most Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Many experience it as a direct result of travel.[/info]

Prepare for your trip by starting out in a position of strength… get your spine aligned before you travel. Be aware of lifting technique when carrying heavy luggage. Make sure to use aids like cervical pillows or lumbar supports to help encourage good posture. Vary body position frequently by stretching, contracting, and moving about. If you follow these simple tips, travel need not be a physically crippling experience. If you feel yourself getting stiff or sore, understand this is your body telling you to get up and move around. Humans were not designed to sit inactive for hours on end. Movement is life!

If you do experience aches, pains, or muscle symptoms, an adjustment will help. Our team looks forward to serving you and your family. The holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends. While this in itself can sometimes be stressful, neck and back pain will make the whole trip less enjoyable. Pain puts a damper on the festive atmosphere and makes people irritable and we all know what it is like to be around those people! Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat problems of the spine and nervous system thereby eliminating discomfort and pain. Maximize your travel and holiday experience with chiropractic care!

For More Information

Contact Dr. Davis at Firm Foundation Chiropractic to schedule a pre and post travel appointment to realign your spine by calling 515-440-2242.

Leave a Comment