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Travel Tips to Reduce Back Pain

Nov 26, 2013 11:23AM ● By n Swerdlow-Sprauer

During the holidays, many of us will spend more time than usual traveling to visit family and friends or getting away for a vacation, and the stress can put a tremendous amount of pressure on our bodies. For those with existing spine and back problems, travel can ruin the trip or even cause misery in the weeks to follow. Here are some tips to help ensure a more comfortable trip.

Driving: Car seats generally put the body in an unsupported posture that may lead to pain. In addition, arm, neck and shoulder strain can occur from the driver reaching forward. Frequent seat adjustments can help to ease strain.

Additional lumbar supports and added seat wedges can be helpful. A lumbar support fits the inward curve of the lower back to provide support and align the spine. An effective seat wedge is thicker in the back than in the front, and will raise the hips to reduce strain.

Allow time for regular stretch breaks when traveling. Movement stimulates blood flow that in turn helps muscles from feeling stiff and sore.

Flying: Sitting on a plane can add strain to the lower back and neck. It also decreases circulation. Consider using an inflatable lumber support that can be rolled up for easy transport to help with spinal alignment.

Special neck supports are also available to better support the neck and chin when sleeping upright in the seat.

Sleeping: The body needs as much, if not more, rest when traveling than normally. Reduce neck strain from sleeping on an unfamiliar pillow by bringing your own. Once we own a properly fitted pillow, any other can put a considerable amount of strain on the neck, even if it’s only for a couple of nights. Custom-fit travel pillows are available and recommended for any trip.

When making travel plans, remember that the spine needs time to relax and adjust, too. Consider bringing some type of small massage tool for temporary relief from muscular tension associated with travel.

Robyn Swerdlow-Sprauer, along with Marcy Swerdlow, are the owners of Relax The Back stores in the Chicago area. They carry a variety of travel accessories, with a 30-day trial on most products. Locations: 900 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire (847-415-2225); 840 Willow Rd., Northbrook (847-205-2555); and 1925 N. Clybourn, Chicago (773-348-2225). For more information, visit