Many people travel over the holiday season to visit loved ones, and too many of them come home with an aching, stiff, sore back. While people tend to worry about accidents and delays when they travel, few of us realize the real dangers. Whether we are going by car, by plane or even by train, we risk back pain in two main ways: lifting and carrying heavy luggage and sitting still for too long. But you can travel safely if you follow a few important tips to protect your back.
> Set yourself up for success by packing light. The less you pack the less weight you are lifting and lugging around. How many shoes and books do you really need for the trip? Hint – two. Keep it simple and you’ll reduce the risk. If you are an avid reader, consider getting an electronic reader so you aren’t carrying books at all. If you are bringing gifts, consider the possibility of mailing them ahead of time instead of carrying them.
> Use suitcases with wheels and backpacks, but don’t think you can overload them either. No matter what type of luggage you have, you will need to lift it at some stage.
> Leave earlier than you think you need to. The more time you have, the less frazzled you will be. That means you will be more likely to remember to use correct lifting procedures and to take care of yourself.
> When you are lifting suitcases, first bend your knees to lower yourself. Don’t bend at the waist. Hold the case close to your body and stand, keeping the suitcase at waist height. If you have to lift it higher to an overhead storage bin on a plane or a roof rack on a car, do so slowly in stages. Poor lifting posture is a leading cause of back pain.
> Take stretch breaks. If you are driving, try to stop and get out of the car every couple of hours to stretch. If you are flying, get up and walk around often. Either way, drink plenty of water. Not only is it harmful to sit in the same position too long, the stress of travelling can cause muscles to tighten up. Walking around and stretching can relax them.
> Wear comfortable shoes. If you want to look fabulously stylish upon arrival, pack your dressy shoes in your carry-on bag or keep them in the car with you. You can change at the last minute to minimize your time in less comfortable shoes.
No one wants their trip home for the holidays or their vacation to be ruined by back pain. No matter where you are going or why, it is important not to injure yourself travelling. Taking a few easy precautions can help you enjoy your travels and have more fun when you arrive. It will also mean you are able to get back into your routine more easily when you return home.