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Back Pain Relief Tips for the Savvy Traveler

Back pain is never fun. But it’s even LESS fun when you’re headed on vacation! Not to mention that it makes business travel that much more exhausting. Here are some great back pain relief tips to keep in mind when traveling.

Universal Travel Tips for Back Pain Relief

These back pain relief tips will help you whether you’re traveling on the road, a plane, train, cruise boat, or something even more exciting!

Back pain relief tips practiced by a woman on a beach

These include the following:

  • Drink water. You probably already knew water is good for you. This is a universal health tip! But back pain clinical studies have shown how staying hydrated helps ease your pain since it circulates healing nutrients and oxygen throughout your body.
  • Wear slip on shoes. This way you won’t ever have to bend over to tie your shoes or to take them off at airport security. Just make sure they’re comfortable!
  • Bring over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or Aleve. The last thing you want is to be in pain with no form of relief. Taking your medication an hour before your travel time allows it to get into your system. Also make sure you have more medicine in your purse or pocket. Just be careful if you are the driver! Talk to your doctor about what medications are okay before operating a motor vehicle.
  • Bring a letter from your physician. If you have a letter explaining your condition, you can more easily communicate your needs to others. It can help you secure an aisle seat on a plane or get your medications through security more easily.

Pack Smarter with Back Pain

Luggage can be a troublesome part of travel for anyone, especially someone with back pain. But there are a variety of ways to make sure your baggage doesn’t injure you.

Woman needs back pain relief while traveling

Here’s how to pack with back pain relief in mind:

  • Lift luggage in stages. And all-at-once sweeping motion puts more strain on your body than a couple small lifts. Perhaps when you lift your baggage into the overhead bin, you can first lift it up to the arm of the seat then to the top of the seatback and finally into the bin.
  • Don’t twist! This is a way to badly injure your back. If you’re holding baggage and need to turn your body, use your feet instead of twisting your upper body.
  • If you can avoid lifting altogether, do! Airline staff are representatives of their company and their customers should be their priority. Explaining you have a back condition and asking for help is often the best plan of action.
  • Pack light when possible. The less your luggage weighs, the less it strains your back! It’s also good to put heavier items such as shoes into your checked baggage rather than your carry-on if you are flying. If you are in a car, make sure not to wedge something heavy into a tight spot like a footwell where it will be hard to get later.
  • Avoid having luggage! Shipping your items to your destination is also an option. Now that many airlines charge for bags anyway, it might not even be much of a cost difference. That way, you can just enjoy your trip without the added stress of luggage.

Back Pain Tips for Your Next Flight

Flying can be especially stressful when you have low back pain, since you have less control over stopping and taking breaks than you do in a car. But there are a number of ways to make it less stressful and potentially painful:

  • Contact the airline weeks before your trip. This can help in a variety of ways:
    • The airline can provide you with medical attention if necessary
    • They can arrange a flight attendant to lift your luggage into the bin
    • They can give you tips for traveling and getting through security with your transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit (if you have one!)
  • Be strategic with your scheduling.
    • Try to limit the amount of layovers if you can
    • Consider taking a less popular flight with the opportunity to lie down across seats. The airline may be able to let you know which flights these are.
    • Try not to take an extremely early flight
  • Provide support to your back during the flight
    • Make sure your back is as straight as possible
    • Put pillows behind your lower back
    • Wear a back brace if needed

Back Pain Tips for Your Next Roadtrip

Hitting the road is another form of travel that can impact your back. Though you have the flexibility to stop more often, sitting in the car for hours can certainly cause just as much back pain as flying.

Man keeps these back pain relief tips in mind while driving

Here are some back pain relief tips to keep in mind on the open road:

  • Bring along a cold pack or heating pad – Both can be excellent at relieving pain!
  • Get comfortable immediately – When you’re on the road for a long time even the smallest things can become big things. Removing your wallet from your back pocket and fixing any seemingly small sources of discomfort at the very beginning of the trip is best. It eliminates some potential sources of back pain before they even have the opportunity to bother you.
  • Support your back with your feet – Bottom-up leverage from your feet is the best way to support your feet. If you’re not tall enough for your feet to reach the floor, consider using a footrest. If you are the driver, try to utilize cruise control and put your feet on the floor at times it’s safe.
  • Distract yourself – Sometimes the best cure for pain is simply taking your mind off of things. Playing a song you love or telling stories on the road might help ease the pain.

(Need some more back pain relief tips for your next road trip? Check out this post from Spine-health.)

Back pain is tough in any life situation. But with these travel tips, you’ll be on your way to a more comfortable trip. Remember to direct any questions to your doctor. Bon Voyage!

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