Reduce Travel Back Pain

Travel back pain complaints in Raleigh NC always increase with a significant increase in the amount of traveling we do, which can actually have some negative effects if you don’t do anything to prevent it.

While some travel plans might mean getting across the country by plane and others keep us on land with a few hour-long drives in a local region, being on the road or in the air during can cause travel back pain for some of us.  Between crowded highways, packed planes and the general mania of the holidays, the process of getting from one point to another is often dreadful, as well as painful.  Being in a confined space and sitting for long periods of time can lead to a number of problems, and one of the most common conditions people experience this time of year is back pain.

One of the main reasons back pain is so prevalent during the holidays is that airplane and car seats are designed for comfort in the average back curve, but many people have variations with flat backs or excessively curved backs.  The typical contoured seat puts the average flat back on too much of a prolonged stretch, and the average curved back is not used to the lack of support and can get over strained as a result.  Many people also fail to stretch their backs after sitting for multiple hours, and may spend time bending when handling luggage, both of which can increase strain on the back and make pain worse.

Unfortunately, this causes many people with back pain to be hesitant about traveling, which may lead to unnecessary stress or get in the way of their travel plans.  The good news is that there are some steps you can take during your travel plans to reduce back pain in Raleigh, NC or anywhere else your travel plans bring you.  We recommend the following tips to keep in mind while traveling this season:

  • Flat backs need to block the prolonged overstretch by creating a soft arch in the seat; many cars have built in lumbar supports; on planes, use a supplemental support, like an inflatable lumbar pillow, rolled towel or travel sweater
  • Curved and swayed backs need similar extra support to fill in the space
  • If you normally use a heating pad or other device to relieve your back pain, don’t forget it while traveling
  • Stretch your entire body, especially your back, before departing, to prepare it for the prolonged stretch of contoured seats
  • Avoid hunching forward and try to keep both feet on the ground
  • Flex and straighten your legs and arms, move your knees up and down and make circles with your ankles during drives and flights
  • Stand up and move around at least once every 30 minutes; if there’s enough space, do some stretching while standing; if not, do some basic seated stretches
  • Pack lightly, check heavy bags and avoid overhead lifting of heavy luggage
  • When driving in a car, follow the same seating tips as above; also make sure you’re as close to the wheel as possible to avoid using bad posture
  • Take frequent quick stops every 45 minutes in order to relieve your back from being stretched forward; walk around and arch the back and side bend slowly; it’s also helpful to trade off driving duties every so often

Traveling during the holidays might seem like a pain, but that doesn’t mean it should cause you any actual back pain in Raleigh, NC or anywhere else.  These tips and tricks will certainly help you get through holiday travel with less back pain, but if you happen to continue experiencing pain that won’t go away, we recommend you come to see us at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic, where we can identify the problem and determine the best course of treatment for it.  Contact us at 919-785-3400 for more information or to schedule an appointment.