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Surviving Summer Travels

Young female airplane passenger with headphones smiling while wearing a travel pillow and sitting up straight

This summer as you venture off on vacation, let Space Coast Orthopedics help you prepare your back for the prolonged periods of sitting that come with traveling. Sitting for extended periods of time results in pressure building up in your muscles that can cause feelings of discomfort of even pain. However, there are some things that can be done to reduce these feelings of discomfort,while increasing blood flow and your ability to enjoy your vacation.

 

Traveling by Airplane:

  • Maintain Good Posture: When traveling by airplane, an important thing to remember is to maintain good posture while sitting or standing. This means standing or sitting tall, allowing the natural “S”curve in your spine to form. When sitting, it may be helpful to used pillows or rolled up blankets as additional support to keep this curve. There are several pillow options available for just this purpose.Maintaining this posture will help provide extra support to your spine, making extended periods of sitting more manageable.
  • Avoid Heavy Lifting:  To minimize the amount of stress placed on your back, you will also want to avoid lifting or carrying heavy bags. This means you should check all baggage that is heavier than 5-10% of your body weight. Even if you carry bags on board, ask for assistance when it comes to placing them in the overhead bins.
  • Give Yourself Plenty of Room: When storing bags under the seat in front of you, make sure that this does not impede your ability to sit comfortably. You will also want to take care when bending to place these items, and you may need to consider asking for assistance.

 

Traveling by Car:

  • Take Frequent Breaks: To avoid excess discomfort after sitting too long, make sure you stop every now at then to get out of the car and walk around. These don’t need to be long breaks, just short breaks that allow you to change position. This helps alleviate some of the strain on your spine and will increase blood flow. It is recommended to take breaks approximately every 30 minutes.
  • Stretch: In between breaks, you can still do simple stretches that can help increase blood flow and prevent extra pressure from building up in your blood vessels. Things like stretching your toes apart, tensing and relaxing your calves, and rolling your shoulders are all simple stretches that can be easily done in a car.
  • Avoid Junk Food: Junk food has no dietary value and will make you feel fatigued and sluggish. Furthermore, most junk food contains sugars, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine, which are all foods that have been shown to increase inflammation within the body. Instead opt for healthier options that will make you feel better.
  • Take an Ice Pack: Ice packs help to reduce inflammation and provide instant relief to sore muscles. If you anticipate experiencing pain or discomfort from sitting too long, pack and ice chest with reusable ice packs and use them as necessary to relieve symptoms.