Comprehensive Guide to Traveling Without Back Pain in Sacramento CA

Comprehensive Guide to Traveling Without Back Pain in Sacramento CA

Chiropractic Sacramento CA Back Pain Red

At Barham Chiropractic we pride ourselves in helping you live pain-free in Sacramento CA.

One of the major things our patients look forward to is being able to travel long distances without major back pain ruining their vacations.

We wrote this guide to help you be able to travel without worrying about back pain ruining your trip.

The content of this article is broken down into two sections flying and road trips.

Please feel free to skip to what makes sense for your trip, our intention is to be helpful and to the point.

If you have any questions or want help planning a trip please call us during our office hours.

We would love to help you have a safe and enjoyable vacation.

Why does your back hurt on vacation?

Your back can hurt during vacations for many reasons. Normally people’s activity levels change pretty drastically when they travel. During a flight or drive, you are sedentary for a long time and when you arrive you may be more active than usual. Combine that with a different (and potentially less comfortable) sleeping arrangement and you have a recipe for back pain.

How to avoid back pain while flying in Sacramento CA

Flying with back pain isn't the most comfortable experience, but with a few changes, it's possible to minimize discomfort and make your flight more enjoyable. This list of tips will keep your back pain under control before during and after your flight.

IMPORTANT 8 step check list (Before flight)

You may not realize it, but there are many things you can do before you even get to the airport to help alleviate the effects of back pain during your flight.

1. Book an aisle seat

Booking an aisle seat provides more freedom of movement, allowing you to stretch without disturbing other passengers. It also offers additional space for luggage, making it easier to access items during the flight.

2. Get TSA precheck

Arranging for TSA Precheck will not only make your airport experience less stressful, but it can also minimize strain on your back. With a TSA Precheck, you can breeze through security without removing your shoes, coat, or belt. Shorter lines also make it easier for those with back conditions to get through quickly without standing for too long.

3. Pack light or choose bags with wheels

Lighter loads reduce strain on the body and make it easier to move around the airport. Luggage with wheels or adjustable handles provides more ergonomic lifting, making the journey smoother.

4. Ship your luggage ahead

Try to ship your luggage in advance to make it easier to get through the airport and reduce the strain on your back from carrying heavy bags.

How does shipping luggage ahead work?

Services like Luggage Forward and Luggage Free offer door-to-door luggage delivery between home and destination. This is an incredibly convenient service, especially if you're traveling with many bags or are worried about pain flaring up while carrying your suitcases around the airport.

5. Consider adding layovers to give your back a break

Adding a layover between connecting flights can help alleviate pain in the lower back, allowing you to get off the plane and stretch your legs. A non-stop flight may not always be the best option, as choosing one with a layover enables you to move around and reduce discomfort caused by prolonged sitting.

6. Bring your medications in your carry-on

Packing necessary prescriptions or pain relief devices (like a TENS machine) in your carry-on bag is essential. This prevents lost, delayed, or damaged medicine and allows for faster pain treatment upon arrival.

7. Wear comfortable shoes

Wearing comfortable shoes is one of the best ways to prevent back pain while traveling. Shoes that are too tight or have too much heel can cause strain on your feet and legs, leading to back pain. Consider wearing slip-on shoes that are easy to take off and put on to allow for more stretching and movement.

8. Consider using a travel pillow and lumbar support cushion

Bringing a pillow for your back is essential for long flights. Neck pillows can provide head comfort and reduce fatigue, while lumbar support pillows provide extra cushioning and help distribute weight evenly to reduce back pain.

5 Tips to reduce back pain (During flight)

Here are a few tips to minimize discomfort during your flight:

1. Take short walks throughout the flight (if possible)

Taking short walks throughout the flight can reduce tension in the lower back and promote flexibility. Posture is also essential; taking breaks to stand up and move can help prevent long-term stress on the spine. So, If you can take short walks down the airplane's aisle, do it!

2. Take pain management medication when necessary

Consult your primary care physician before taking pain medications, as they can provide advice to reduce inflammation and manage symptoms. Taking medicine as prescribed can ensure it effectively relieves discomfort during a flight.

3. Try to stretch during the flight

Stretching can relieve built-up tension due to long periods of sitting in the same position. Taking brief breaks to roll your shoulders, raise your arms, or practice breathing exercises can help you stay comfortable and relaxed while on a flight.

4. Do not eat foods that are likely to irritate your stomach

Eating foods that could irritate your stomach can worsen existing back pain, as the stress from an upset stomach can cause tension in your back muscles. Avoid any meal options that may cause bloating or minor discomfort, and opt for more calming alternatives.

5. Remove Items From Your Pockets

An overloaded pocket can create an uneven weight distribution on one side of the body, putting strain on your back muscles. Reducing the number of objects you carry can help you maintain proper posture while sitting.

Top 3 back prevention tips (After flight)

These suggestions may help you deal with any pain or discomfort that persists after your flight:

1. If you experience a flare-up, take care of it right away

Utilize options such as applying ice, over-the-counter medication, or other methods that may provide relief. Taking quick action can help reduce the intensity of your back pain and make for a more comfortable trip.

2. Warm up and stretch

Stretching isn't just for before and during the flight. After disembarking, gradually increasing your activity level and warming up your body is essential. Take short walks and gently stretch any sore or tight areas to help reduce the risk of back issues due to subluxation (tightness) of the vertebrae.

3. Try not to sit for a while to give your back a break

Taking regular breaks from sitting after the flight is essential to giving your back a chance to rest and recover. Walking or light stretching can help reduce any lingering tension or stiffness caused by your flight.

Tips on surviving road trips without back pain

Traveling by car can also be hard on the back, so taking care of yourself and your spine during long drives is essential. To help reduce discomfort in your lower back, follow these steps:

Top 3 tips to reduce back pain (Before road trip)

Before you hit the road, take some time to prepare your vehicle and yourself for the journey:

1. Adjust your car seat

Your car's seat should be adjusted so that you remain in a natural, upright position during the ride. Make sure your head rests comfortably at an angle and your feet are flat on the floor.

2. Have lumbar support ready

Packing pillows for your car journey can help keep your spine in the correct position, which reduces strain on the back muscles and helps prevent aches or pains.

3. Plan to wear comfortable clothing

Wearing comfortable clothes during long drives will help reduce irritation or soreness caused by tight-fitting garments.

Important bonus tip. don’t forget to pack your medication

You probably already thought about this but before embarking on a road trip, make sure your medicine is easily accessible. Talking to your doctor ahead of time can also ensure you take the correct dosage and frequency, helping reduce back pains.

6 steps to take to reduce back pain (during road trip)

There are a few steps you can take to protect your back while in the car:

1. Take frequent breaks

Stopping every two hours or so will give your back a chance to rest and reduce any pressure from sitting in the same position for too long. Make sure to get out of the car, stretch, and walk around to help keep your muscles relaxed.

2. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated helps your body stay limber and flexible, which prevents back pain. Drinking enough water also helps keep your muscles from becoming too tense and sore due to dehydration.

3. Take turns driving

Having more than one driver can help prevent you from developing back pain from driving for too long. Taking turns behind the wheel will give both drivers a chance to rest, preventing fatigue, which can cause back pain.

4. If you get out of your car, make sure you warm up and stretch

Whether you are stopping for gas, a bathroom break, or to pick up a meal, take some time to move around. Going for a short walk can help reduce stiffness and improve circulation in your back muscles. If you have time, stretch before getting back in the car to help reduce any potential pain.

5. Avoid tech neck

Tech neck is caused by looking down at your device for too long. To reduce the risk of this condition, keep your head and neck in a neutral position when using mobile devices. Using a mount or stand can also help reduce neck strain caused by looking down at your device for extended periods.

6. Stay away from foods that cause stomach discomfort

Certain foods can increase the risk of gas, bloating, or other stomach discomforts. Eating these types of food while in the car can add an extra burden to your back. Foods like sugar, dairy, processed foods, and caffeine can all contribute to stomach issues that lead to back pain.

5 best actions to keep back pain away (After road trip)

Once you have arrived at your destination, it's essential to take some time to rest and relax. Your back will need some extra attention after a long journey, so take the following steps to help reduce any discomfort:

1. Give yourself time to decompress

Take a few moments after arriving at your destination to stretch and move around. Allow yourself time to settle in and adjust before starting a full day of activities. Your body needs time to process the long journey and return to a comfortable routine.

2. Take advantage of ice or heat treatments

Using hot or cold packs can help reduce inflammation and soothe sore muscles. Applying either of these treatments to your back can help reduce any residual pain or discomfort.

3. Stay active

The best way to prevent back pain is to stay active during your vacation. Going for a walk, running, or swimming can help keep your back muscles loose and prevent them from becoming too tense. Spend some time each day stretching to help improve your flexibility and reduce back pain.

4. Get enough sleep

Your body needs plenty of rest to recover from a long trip. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night and allow yourself some time to relax during the day. A regular sleep schedule after your trip can help reduce back pain and improve your overall health.

5. If you experience a flare-up, take care of it right away

Utilize options such as applying ice, over-the-counter medication, or other methods that may provide relief. Taking quick action can help reduce the intensity of your back pain and make for a more comfortable trip.

Thanks for checking out our tips to travel without back pain.

We sincerely hope this article was helpful for you and encourage you to reach out if you need help managing back pain or are planning a trip and want pointers!

Clinically reviewed by Steven Barham, D.C.

- Updated on January 26, 2023

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