Travel Aches and Strains
Traveling can be rough on the body. Whether you are traveling alone on business or on your way to a sunny resort with your family, long hours in a car or an airplane can leave you stressed, tired, stiff and sore.
“Prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your body,” says Dr. Scott Bautch, immediate past president of the American Chiropractic Associations (ACA) Council on Occupational Health. “Even if you travel in the most comfortable car or opt to fly first class, certain pressures and forces from awkward positions can result in restricted blood flow. One of the biggest insults to your system from prolonged sitting is the buildup of pressure in the blood vessels in your lower legs. Contracting and relaxing the muscles helps the blood flow properly.”
Tips and advice to fight the pains and strains of travel before they occur
Warm Up, Cool Down
Treat travel as an athletic event. Warm up before settling into a car or plane and cool down once you reach your destination. Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
Adjust the seat so you are as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible. Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips. Place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closest to your knee. If you cannot easily slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat.
Consider a back support to reduce the risk of low-back strain, pain or injury.
Exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue or discomfort.
To minimize arm and hand tension while driving, hold the steering wheel at approximately 3 oclock and 7 oclock, periodically switching to 10 oclock and 5 oclock.
Instead of gripping the steering wheel, loosen your grip to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands.
While always being careful to keep your eyes on the road, vary your focal point to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and tension headaches.
Take rest breaks. Never underestimate the potential consequences of fatigue to yourself, your passengers and other drivers.
Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Then use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain that curve when you sit in your seat.
Check all bags heavier than 5-10% of your body weight. While lifting your bags, stand right in front of the overhead compartment so the spine is not rotated. Do not lift your bags over your head, or turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
When stowing belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. Instead, sit in your seat first, and using your hands and feet, gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you.
Do not sit directly under the air controls. The draft can increase tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.