Pain Free Travel Tips

Woman going to summer vacation isolated on white

Travelling with back pain can seem like a Herculean task. Between all of the lifting of heavy luggage and sitting upright for long hours, it seems inevitable that your back pain will begin to act up. Luckily, by following three easy steps you will be able to minimize your pain and travel in comfort no matter how and where you travel.

Woman going to summer vacation isolated on white
                                 Woman going to summer vacation isolated on white

Be Smart About Lifting Luggage

You may think you have your back pain under control, until one wrong move lifting your heavy suitcase, and you’re debilitated. Heavy luggage is risky for your back, so it’s important to pack light and lift correctly. Remember when packing that anything in your bag will need to be lifted and probably by you. For this reason it’s smart to pack and lightly as possible. Also, to decrease the amount of times you will need to lift your luggage, choose a suitcase on wheels that you can bring from point A to point B without lifting overhead. Lastly, when actually picking up your suitcase be sure to lift with your knees and move in straight lines, rather than twisting your back at all.

Check Your Posture

So you have your light backed bag in the overhead compartment and you’re settled into your seat. Now it’s time to make sure that you are supporting your back with proper posture. Slouching or hunching over puts unnecessary pressure on your lower back, leading to pain and the possibility of injury. For this reason it is important to maintain a strong and straight posture when seated upright with both feet planted on the floor and your shoulders rolled back. If you think this isn’t maintainable for the entirety of your flight, feel free to recline a bit so that you can relax with your lower back supported. If this isn’t enough, bring a back brace. It may seem over the top but you will be glad you have it in the middle of your long flight or car ride.

Manage Pain

If pain does act up it is important to be proactive as soon as possible to keep it to a minimum. The first step is applying heat and cold to the part of your back affected by the pain. You can do this by bringing heat and ice packs with you or asking the flight attendant for a bag of ice if you’re flying or getting one at a roadside shop if you’re driving. It’s best to alternate between heat and ice for fifteen-minute increments to avoid exacerbating the problem and to keep swelling to a minimum. If you already have issues with your spine or nerve pain, consult your spinal surgeon or neurosurgeon before you fly.

With these easy steps you can be sure to keep your back pain to a minimum while getting the most out of travel, because no one wants to lose precious vacation time and productivity by being sidelined by back pain. By being smart about lifting luggage, maintaining good posture, and managing your pain you can enjoy your trip without any unwelcome twinges.

Dr Peter Moloney – Spinal Surgeon, NSW