Tips for Traveling with Back Pain

by Lauren on February 20, 2013

Staying Dry

If you’re anything like me, you dig travel. That is, the “once you’re there” bit, but detest the hours spent in cramped airplane seats. Whether you’re a seasoned business traveler logging frequent flier miles, or the fearless fan of chicken buses who likes to get off the beaten path, here are a few ideas for keeping your back happier:

Stretch – By this I mean don’t ever stop moving. Flex and extend your ankles and toes while sitting in the plane, try touching your toes (but nothing else) while inside the plane’s bathroom, or bang out a few runners’ stretches while waiting to board. Don’t be afraid to look like a fool, because you’re just gonna. But you can bet that onlookers are thinking, “Man, I should do more of that,” as they take another bite of their frosted Cinnabon roll.

Your Signature Move – Depending on the discomfort you have, know its origin, and the movement or position that best alleviates it. Your doctor or physical therapist can help with this. Keep in mind that the movements you think are safe may not be. Example – forward bends wreak havoc on my herniated discs, but lying flat on my back is pure heaven. Work this into your routine, even if it means stretching in the bathroom before meeting the board. It’s worth it.

Plank it Up – No matter what shape you are in, planks help strengthen your core. Do them face-down (front plank), or to the side, propped up on one arm. They have the added benefit of feeling like a stretch, in that they lengthen the spine. Do them in your hotel room while on a conference call, or as a warm-up for a long day’s walk through Tuscan vineyards.

Roll It – Most travelers have this part down pat. In other words, they travel with roller bags. I’ve had good luck with L.L. Bean over the years, and their return policy is unrivaled. But some travelers still use one-shouldered bags, which unevenly distribute the weight of your load. I have a sturdy pack from The North Pace, and religiously use both straps.

Extra Help – I’m not a doctor. But for 15+ hour flights to Asia you can bet I’ll bring some Advil. Or something stronger, if your doctor dictates. Please note that this category also includes wine (responsible amounts of) and chocolate (whatever amount makes you feel better).

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ric Labesk March 2, 2013 at 1:03 am

Great advises for people like you and me who have fragile back..


Lauren Schaad March 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Ric!


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