Traveling, whether for business or vacation, can play havoc on your body. Long hours in a car or on an airplane can leave you stiff, tired, stresses and sore.
The American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health states that traveling, even in the most comfortable settings, puts pressures and forces on the body due to awkward positions that can result in restricted blood flow. When you sit for long periods of time pressure builds up in the blood vessels in your lower legs causing problems for your system.
As silly as it sounds you should treat traveling like an athletic event and do some warm up exercises before getting in a car or on a plane. Once you reach your destination do cool down exercises by taking a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
If you are driving a car make sure you adjust the seat close to the steering wheel as comfortably as possible. Your knees need to be slightly higher than your hips. A test is to place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closets to your knee. If you cannot easily slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat. Other helpful suggestions while driving would be to use a back support between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline. You can exercise your legs while driving to reduce fatigue, discomfort or swelling. Start with your toes and work your way up. Also, roll your shoulders forward and back – but make sure you keep your hands on the wheel and watch the road.
The best placement for your hands to minimize arm and hand tension is at the 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock position and every so often switch to 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock position. Also do not grip the steering wheel. Tightening and loosening your grip on the wheel will help your hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands. Most importantly, take breaks.
If you are traveling by plane, stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine then roll up pillows or blankets and put them behind your back, just above the beltline, and put another pillow or rolled blanket in the gap between your neck and the headrest.
It is best to check all bags that are more than 5-10% of your body weight. Try to avoid lifting anything overhead to reduce pain in the lower back and neck. If you have to put a bag overhead strand right in front of the compartment so the spine is not rotated.
When putting your belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This could cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back. The best way to put something under the seat is to be seated then using your hands and feet gently put the bags under the seat in front of you.
During the plane ride vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. You can also bring your legs in and move your knees up and down or prop your legs on a book or back under your seat. To avoid tension in the neck and shoulder muscles do not sit directly under the air controls.
These simple tips can help you experience a pain-free, safe trip. If you do experience pain and stress on your back contact Dr. Brandon Czekaj at Health & Rehab Chiropractic Alexandria VA who can diagnose and treat the problems of your spine and nervous system.