Your Spine on Holiday #2 – How to Survive a Long Journey?

Kręgosłup na wakacjach 2 - Jak przetrwaćdługą podróż

Packed? If not, check out our first post about back pain on holiday where you will find out several tricks how to safely move your luggage from point A to point B. Now let’s move on as we have holidays ahead of us! Unfortunately, instead of excitement one can experience back pain caused by a long journey. We all know how unbearable can be endless hours of sitting but is there a way to make a journey less stressful? Yes, of course!

Prevention is better than cure

We often forget about such an obvious thing! Your organism needs to be prepared for long traveling by train, bus, car or another form of transport. Do some stretching and relaxing exercises a few days before departure. It will help you to minimize possible back pain and prepare your spine for the travel.

If you already have a Drim Drum, the best option for you will be the combo of the so-called DD1 and DD2 exercises.

DD1 exercise is ideally suited for effective and fast rehabilitation of: sciatica, lower back pain, and leg pain resulting from pressure on the sciatic nerve. DD2 exercise strengthens structural abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis muscle, external and internal obliques).

What transport to use?

Among public transport train is definitely the most convenient one. If you have an opportunity, travel by railway without thinking. The pros are obvious: you will be able to stand full-length, lay on a long seat or even have a short walk along the corridor. The ability to change one body position to another is a key to improved circulation and activated musculoskeletal system.

It is also important that while traveling by train we are less exposed to shocks when the transport makes sudden moves. Trains simply lightly slide, instead of falling into road holes. Where also no road holes can be found? Exactly. In the air.

We will not get to the hot tropical beach by train. However, there are ways our spine can survive even the longest flight. Like in the case of train travel, it is important to move your body by walking around the cabin. When you’ll be booking a ticket, try to hunt for seats on an aisle where you would have more chances to stretch your legs. Having refused from seats near windows, you might lose a good view point, but get more space to manoeuvre.

Neck pain is one of the most popular symptoms that appear while air travel. In order to support the cervical spine, take a collar pillow on board of the aircraft. It will prevent the head from swaying, stabilize its position and protect the neck muscles against overloads and injuries.

Those who chose a car should pay attention not at the colour or trademark of a car but appropriate equipment for both the driver and the passenger. It is possible to individually adjust the armchair settings to suit the needs of travelers in the majority of modern cars. In addition to securing the cervical spine with the already mentioned collar pillow, it is also important to secure the lumbar spine. If the seat cannot be adjusted properly, we can help ourselves with a cushion or so-called half rollers. In case if the car seat is really useless, you can buy an anatomic mat that adapts to the shape of your body and supports it properly during the journey.

This is unfortunately the least comfortable means of transport. Buses usually can’t offer more space than trains, and it’s not so easy to walk during a bus journey as we are dependent on stops. In this case a collar pillow and/or anatomic mat is more than welcome. Remember to use every stop to get out of the bus, straighten your legs and stretch yourself!

For every type of transport, we can do simple exercises that will have a positive effect on our spine, osteoarticular system and circulatory system. So try to do some stretching in order to relieve the upper spine, make some gentle slopes to relieve the lumbar spine, and turn our head to loosen the cervical spine. This small effort will certainly pay off.

What should I take? Checklist.

Few things can increase your journey comfort drastically. What should be taken at first?

Comfortable clothes
Clothes are one of the most important factors which affect our travel comfort. Make sure that your clothes are airy, do not block your movements and do not decrease a range of motion. Whenever possible, try to put on something that is not pity to damage or stain. Thus, we will be able to take different body positions without worrying about the condition of our clothes.

Comfortable footwear
Footwear is such an important element of every journey that we couldn’t but make it a separate point. As with your clothes, we should make sure it is as comfortable as possible. The comfort of feet and legs translates into comfort and support of the spine. Remember that our shoes stabilize our feet, so be gentle with them. Better put on a pair of already tested boots or sandals, which can be loosened if necessary. You can even take your boots off completely to relieve your feet.

Appropriate meals & the right amount of fluids
Better eat before you leave, so to adjust meal time to the time of day and the length of the journey. Choose light dishes, for example steamed vegetables combined with the right amount of protein, e.g. poultry meat. Avoid dishes that can cause flatulence, vomiting, dyspepsia or stomack pain.

Rest before and after travel
When you plan your trip, always leave an extra hour or two to simply relax. The right amount of sleep or at least a short nap can change your overall journey impressions 180 degrees. Lie down on a bed or sofa, stretch your legs or lean them against the wall. It improves blood circulation, relaxes legs and lumbar spine. Do some exercises mentioned at the beginning of this post. If you do not have Drim Drum, try to substitute them with some back stratching activity.

This point applies not only to our children. Adults also get bored during a long journey. That’s why double check if all the batteries are charged, books are taken, earphones work… Something that would take your mind away and help you forget about body discomfort or back pain.

Travel medical kit
Add necessary medicines to your travel kit. Carefully plan a list of medications, taking in mind your personal state of health and predisposition to different travel inconveniences. While most of them can be placed in our main luggage, it is worth having a small “just in case” kit with you. Such a set should include analgesics, cold and flu tablets, motion sickness tablets and diarrhoea medicine.

In our next post we will describe the most beneficial holiday activities for our backs. You will learn, among other things, how to swim in order to relieve tired spine muscles and which sunscreens are best to use.