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How to Prevent a Backache from Becoming Your Wake-up Call During Trips

Apr 15, 2014

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey concerning neck pain, back pain and migraines—their findings were something we should all be informed of. In 2011, nearly 30 percent of adults (18 years and older) stated that they suffer with low back pain and 15 percent with neck pain. Common causes of neck and back pain are standing, sitting or lying in an unusual position for extended periods of time. When traveling, you may sit in your car or on an airplane for hours. After traveling, a backache may be your wake-up call—and who wants that to start off their trip or vacation? Limit, or even prevent, back and neck pain while you travel with these helpful tips.

On a Plane

If you do not have a neck pillow, bring a rolled up towel or blanket to use. A neck pillow keeps the headrest from pushing your head forward. Use a lumbar support pillow as well. You can find travel pillows for the neck and low back that will help ease tension.

Use your carry-on as a footstool to raise your knees higher than your hips. This helps relieve some of the pressure on your back. Push it under the seat in front of you, and leave just a little peaking out so you can place your feet on it and still keep the flight attendants happy.

In a Car

When your back sits idle for 20 minutes or more, fluid creeps into your discs, according to Nucci Medical Clinic. This fluid causes your discs to enlarge making them vulnerable. When you reach your destination, you can reduce this fluid buildup by doing a few gentle stretches. You can find videos from Laser Spine Institute demonstrating various stretching exercises and tips on reducing joint inflammation and improving health naturally on spine-exercises.com.

To be more comfortable in the car, adjust your car seat properly. It will help you avoid strains, stiffness and soreness. Tilt your seat backward a little bit and make sure your knees are slightly higher than your hips. According to the Whiplash Prevention Campaign, the middle of your headrest should meet the back of your head. This position reduces your chances of suffering a whiplash injury. The steering wheel needs to be in a position where you can drop your elbows allowing your shoulders and arms to relax. You can also lower the steering wheel and place your hands at the eight and four o’clock position. Let your arms rest on your legs or take advantage of the armrest.

When you are sitting at a rest stop or waiting at stoplights, stretch your neck with simple exercises. Gently turn your head from side-to-side and move your ear toward your shoulder. To relieve tension you can also roll your shoulders.

In a Hotel

Getting rest in a hotel, in a strange bed, can be challenging. Mattresses in hotels are usually firm, which is tough if you prefer a softer mattress. And many times their pillow selection can leave much to be desired. Consider taking along one of your bed pillows. A memory foam pillow like the Easy Breather Pillow from Nest Bedding can be a easily rolled up and packed in your luggage. Having that supportive and familiar pillow can make a world of difference in your sleep and save your neck from a possible strain.

Post-travel

Even with all these precautions, you could still suffer back or neck pain just because you are away from your usual comforts. Having hot and cold packs on hand can alleviate some of your pain, according to thebetterwayback.org. Apply the Ice for 20-30 minutes each hour, ideally at least three times a day. Do not use heat for the first 48 hours following the injury/onset of pain. Then, if you like, you can switch between the ice and heat 20-30 minutes each hour (ice/heat/ice/heat).

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