May 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Avoiding Back Pain when driving or taking extended flights

Some of the most common causes of back and neck pain include lying, sitting or standing in awkward positions for prolonged periods of time, such as during long car rides or extended flights, according to a study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Classic mistakes travelers make include over packing, which can lead to needless back strain when pulling and lifting suitcases, wearing the wrong footwear and scheduling more physical activity into their trip than they are accustomed to.

Travel tips when driving or taking extended flights:

Sit right. Adjusting your car seat can help you avoid stiffness, strains and soreness after a long drive. It should be tilted slightly backward and knees elevated slightly higher than the hips.

• Protect your neck. The American Chiropractic Association estimates that more than 75 percent of drivers have their headrest at an inappropriate height. The middle should meet the back of your head.

• Grab the wheel. Most of us are taught to drive with our hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock position. That’s correct, as long as you drop your elbows so your arms and shoulders can relax.

Stretch your neck. At stoplights or rest stops, do neck exercises such as gentle side-to-side head turns or moving the ear toward the shoulder.

Start slow. When the back is idle for 20 minutes or longer, fluids creep back into the disc. As fluids enlarge the disc, it becomes more vulnerable. So when you arrive at your destination, take a few minutes to just do some gentle stretches, reducing the fluid buildup.

• Lighten your load. Pack lightly and take advantage of curbside check-in if available so you don’t have to haul the bags yourself. A few bucks tip to keep your back healthy? Priceless.

Balance your load. Have a roller in one hand, your hand luggage in the other. On long walks through airports, trade sides regularly. If your suitcase has wheels, load everything on it and push rather than pull it.

Fly in comfort. Place a neck pillow or rolled-up blanket behind your neck to support it so the headrest isn’t pushing your head forward. Do the same behind your lower back to support the lumbar spine.

Pillow talk. If you have a favorite pillow and can afford the luggage space, bring it along, because many hotel pillows can be quite uncomfortable. Your goal with the pillow is to keep your neck in a neutral position similar to when you are standing or looking straight ahead.

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