Summer means warm, sunny days and, with any luck, a vacation getaway. But for people with back pain, the prospect of hours sitting in a car or on an airplane – not to mention hauling heavy luggage around – can be daunting.
Tips for traveling with lower back pain
Before you board the plane or get behind the wheel, consider these potentially back-saving strategies.
- Support your lower back. Place a small pillow, or rolled up jacket, sweater, or blanket at your lower back to give you support that airplane and car seats often don’t.
- Invest in a travel pillow. Inflatable and otherwise, these can help prevent neck strain.
- Plant your feet. If your feet don’t reach the floor in a plane, find a footrest or something solid to prop them on. On long drives, consider using cruise control so you can rest both feet on the floor.
- Sit up straight. Slouching and hunching your shoulders puts additional stress on the spine.
- Move. Whenever possible, get up, stretch, and move around.
Once you arrive, take care lifting and carrying luggage. Some techniques that can help prevent back strain include:
- Bend at the knees and use your legs – never your back – when lifting.
- Avoid twisting the lower back while lifting; instead, pivot with your feet.
- Carry heavy items as close to the body as possible.
- Distribute weight evenly on each side of the body.
- When you carry a shoulder bag, switch sides often.
Also, for your overall health, not just your back health, be sure to follow current CDC guidelines to stay COVID-safe during travel.
If you’re suffering from chronic back or neck pain that prevents you from traveling, short-term or permanent pain management procedures could help.