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Traveling with Back Pain

Do you experience low back pain while traveling? For a lot of people, the idea of long trips increases stress levels due to fear of experiencing low back pain. Here are 3 quick tips to improve your comfort while traveling!

1. Change positions frequently Anytime the body is in a static position for a prolonged amount of time, you are more susceptible to pain. This is due to a neuromuscular response called “creep." When tissues are in a prolonged shortened or elongated position, they believe that is their new length. When you move, you lengthen the shortened muscles activating a pain response from the quick stretch. This happens a lot while traveling due to sitting for longer periods of time. A muscle called the iliopsoas, also known as the hip flexor muscle, originates in the lumbar spine and attaches to the femur allowing for trunk and hip flexion while sitting. This muscle is a common culprit for increased low back pain due to “creep” while traveling. To avoid this from happening to you, try to change positions every 20-30 minutes. Changing positions can be as simple as changing your weight distribution in the seat, doing seated stretches or standing up or walking around for a minute.

2. Lift and carry luggage carefully It is easy to be in a hurry while traveling-getting through security and to the gate on time and making sure to arrive at the destination on time. Due to being in a hurry we tend to forget proper lifting techniques and use our back to lift luggage rather than lifting from our legs. Just like exercising, taking the extra few seconds to make sure we are using proper form will be very beneficial in preventing low back pain. It is also important to hold our belongings close to the body to avoid putting additional stress on the spine and musculature.

3. Bring a Lumbar support pillow Occasionally airplanes, trains and some seats in cars do not provide proper lumbar support. It can be very beneficial to use a lumbar support pillow to aid the natural curves of the spine remain in the proper position, along with allowing the supportive musculature to relax and not overwork. Everyone’s body is different and may need more or less support, so find something that works for you.

Happy travels!

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