Summer is the time for road trips and long plane rides, which means prolonged amounts of time spent sitting. While these trips make for fun adventures, sitting in a car or on a plane often causes mild to excruciating back pain, which sometimes makes it difficult to walk, stand, or participate in increased physical activities upon reaching your vacation destination. Our health experts at Hopkins Health in Pequot Lakes have compiled a list of health tips that can help reduce back pain during your summer travels. Please continue reading below.

Travel Light

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pack. You want to be prepared for all kinds of weather, events, and activities, but, unfortunately, you can’t pack every pair of your favorite shoes. Planning and packing efficiently will help minimize luggage weight, which will help save your back. Try laying out your clothes according to events and activities. Are there clothing articles like a pair of shorts or a skirt that you can re-wear to save on luggage weight? Pay particular attention to the shoes you pack, as they tend to increase the weight of your bags.

Be Careful When Lifting

While the maximum size for carry-on is 45 inches on most airlines, consider how much weight you want to lug around, especially when you have to lift a carry-on overhead. Pay careful attention to how you lift your luggage in and out of the car or on and off a luggage trolley. Are you lifting with your back or your legs? If your luggage is too heavy or awkward to lift, ask for help. Always try to lift your bags with both hands using multiple handle grips. This helps balance out the weight so you don’t over-stress one side of body. Here are some lifting tips to follow when moving your luggage:

  • Feel free to stretch lightly before and after lifting.
  • Get your body as close as possible to your baggage.
  • Position your feet at least shoulder width apart for maximum stability;a narrow stance sets you up for instability that can cause injury.
  • Engage your core for spinal stability and low back injury prevention. When the deep core muscles are activated, the superficial spinal muscles will be less engaged, preventing you from straining them.
  • Remember, your leg muscles are stronger than your back muscles. Bend your knees and hips while keeping your back straight as you lift the object.
  • Be sure to breath! Take a breath  before lifting, exhaling as you lift.

Bring Along Back Support

Having a good lumbar support for your lower back can greatly decrease pain and discomfort caused by sitting. Back supports are usually lightweight, but can also add to the weight of your carry-on luggage. If you’re concerned about carrying a lumbar support on a plane, ask a flight attendant for extra pillows to place along your back for support. It’s also a good idea to carry along over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen to help minimize inflammation caused by sitting for long periods of time. Additionally, you might also pack topical pain-relief gels or creams like Biofreeze, Sombra, or Bengay for quick relief.

Stand, Move About, Stretch, and Hydrate!

It’s important to move about during your travels, as staying stationary for prolonged periods of time can put added stress on your spine, causing pain and discomfort. When you make a pit stop at a gas station, do some light stretches to increase flexibility, while decreasing stiffness Make sure you’re drinking enough water on the road and in the air to replenish your muscles.

We at Hopkins Health hope these tips will help keep your back healthy during your travels this summer. Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have. To maintain optimal health and wellness, while reducing pain and discomfort, be sure to schedule an appointment with our health experts prior to, and upon returning from, your trips. We look forward to helping you heal and hope you enjoy your summer adventures!