Do you suffer from neck and/or back pain after a long car, plane, bus, or train ride? Sitting for prolonged periods of time causes stress on your spine, joints, ligaments, discs, and muscles, creating annoying aches and pains.
Why Traveling Causes Pain
Staying in the same position for long periods of time causes your muscles and joint to tighten, which may cause your range of motion to decrease. This can cause the slightest move to cause painful spasms or even strained muscles. Simple tasks such as reaching forward to grab the remote or turning your head to look out the window can trigger jolts of pain if your muscles are too tight. Long trips can aggravate neck or back conditions including arthritis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative nerve disease, and sciatica.
Sitting in one position does not allow your spine to support your body weight properly. When you sit, the natural curve of your lower spine flattens, while the pressure on your spine increases, according to a study published in the Asian Spine Journal. The design of the seat is also a problem, there is no way for seat designers to create a seat that fits everyone perfectly. If the headrest is too tall for your neck or there is not enough low back support, you are much more likely to feel lower back pain if your trip is longer than an hour or two.
How to Prevent Back Pain On Trips
Take Regular Breaks: Breaking car trips into 2-3 hour long segments will help to keep your muscles and joints limber, but it will also lower the risk of blood clots getting stuck in your legs. If you on a plane or a train, you can walk up and down the aisle a few times.
Stretching: Stretching before, during, and after a trip can keep your muscles and joints limber, reduce the risk of spasms, and maintain your range of motion.
Be Prepared: Bring some items that will help you prevent back pain on your trip. If you get an aching neck and a headache after long trips, you can pack a headrest pillow or a U shaped pillow. If your issue is back pain, bring a cushion that supports the curves in your back. Bring a pillow to sit on if you develop shooting pain up your back or down your legs after sitting for prolonged periods of time.
Utilize Pain Relieving Patches, Ointments, or Tape: Pain-relieving capsicum patches or ointments can help to ease muscle pain, while kinesiology tape can reduce pain, swelling, and stress in your neck. If cold helps out your pain the best, you can pack a cold-pack to ease your pain. (If you are flying, you may not be able to bring a cold-pack).
Improve Your Sitting Posture: Slouching increases the amount of aches and pains on your neck and back due to increased pressure. Reminding yourself to use proper posture can improve spinal posture as well as reduce muscle tension. If you have sciatica, sitting on the bones in your legs rather than your tail bone can reduce pain.
See Your Chiropractor: Visiting your chiropractor before or after long trips can help you to avoid pain. During your pre-trip visit, your chiropractor will offer methods to maintain spinal alignment to avoid pain during your trip. After your trip, your chiropractor will focus on restoring alignment in your spine as well as eliminating spasms, muscle pain, reducing inflammation, and improving range of motion.
Are you going on vacation soon? Chiropractic care can help you to avoid pain on your trip. Contact us today to schedule your pre-and post-trip visit.
Edmunds: Creating the Perfect Fit: New Car Seat Design
Spine Health: 7 Tips to Alleviate Back Pain on Your Road Trips, 9/12/19
How to Stay Comfortable on Long Drives, 5/24/18
Asian Spine Journal: The Effect of Standing and Different Sitting Positions on Lumbar Lordosis: Radiographic Study of 30 Healthy Volunteers, 10/15