Traveling can be rough on your body. Whether driving a few hours with your family to visit relatives or flying cross-country for a week-long excursion, long hours in a car or an airplane can leave you feeling stressed, tired, stiff and sore.
Here are some tips to fight the pains and strains of travel before they occur.
– 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.
– Consider a back support. Using a support behind your back may 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 o’clock and 7 o’clock, periodically switching to 10 o’clock and 5 o’clock.
– Do not grip the steering wheel. Instead, tighten and 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 while driving to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and tension headaches.
– Take frequent rest breaks.
– 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 percent of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck.
– When pushing your belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles.
– While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps.
– Be aware of drafts created by air vents you can control. The draft can increase tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
— Dr. Matthew Waldron