4 Tips For Fighting Back Pain While Travelling
We usually associate travel with business, leisure, tourism or entrepreneurship. We don’t typically think of travel as gruelling, especially outside of the effects of time zone changes, but those who travel frequently know all too well the stiffness and discomfort that sometimes results from a long trek up to a refuge or travelling at break-neck speeds down rapids and Adventure Park assault courses, or even an endless series of flights. While the body fatigues in general, it’s the back that seems to give most travellers fits, especially the lower back.
This seems to ring true as much in a car as it does on a plane or bus. And back pain isn’t limited to business or leisure travellers either, enroute to their next alpine destination. Professional athletes experience back pain during travel as well, even the ones with physios accompanying them on the team coach. Among those athletes, some of the PGA’s young guns—like the ones listed by Oddschecker—are keenly aware of how important it is to keep the back loose and in line. After all, it’s back problems that account for the majority of injuries in the PGA.
Photo by Jesper Aggergaard
Travelling out to the Alps in the winter or summer is as an easy task for some, but for others, an 8 - 12 hour day travelling, no matter in what form of transport, can be enough to put them off the idea all together. Staycations are becoming more and more popular but we at Peak Adventures like to think the draw of the Alps, with all it's benefits and opportunities will change any hardy mind. If you are ready to start thinking of next years summer plans to the Alps, then answer our 6 short questions and we can come back to you with some options and answers. There is a tonne of things to keep you occupied, even those who just want to sit by a pool or on the beach.
No one wants to travel in pain, but we often have little choice about necessary travel. No fear, though. There are several ways to fight off back pain on the go, without burdensome or bulky equipment (and without a half-day commitment).
Attentiveness To The Body
Perhaps above all else, it’s crucial to be aware of your body, potential problem areas and previous back injuries. Knowing which area is most likely to cause pain will not only help you identify red flags that pain is coming but—if preventing the pain is unavoidable—but it will also help you act quickly to target the root of the pain. Even if you don’t have a history of back pain, you’re not immune from stiffness and aching, so try to be vigilant and take preventative steps like the ones noted below.
Photo by Romina Farías
Without a bit of awareness and attention, pain can creep up quickly - and it’s never pleasant. Remember that it’s usually much easier to prevent pain than to get rid of it. Be sure to act before the ache gets too deep.
Posture & Changing Positions
Among several preventative measures, back experts uniformly agree that posture is crucial to a pain-free, injury-free back. Though we’re often not thinking about our posture from moment to moment, travelling takes us out of our normal routine and involves activities that require that we be more conscious of our posture.
Avoid sitting (or standing) for long periods at a time. When we’re sitting and inactive, our muscles cool and tire, and maintaining good posture becomes even more difficult. Of course, as we’ve already noted, bad posture is a surefire way to agitate the back and its supporting muscles and nerves. Changing positions every half hour or so will help keep muscles warm and stave off stiffness from the pressure that sitting/standing can impose on the spine.
Photo by Two Dreamers
If you’re flying, trying to avoid last-minute airport arrivals—which might have you standing in line for hours at bag check-in—and get an aisle seat whenever possible. It will give you more leg room and won’t force you to jostle over other passengers when you need a bathroom break. It will also give you more freedom and convenience when you need to stand up and take a break from sitting. If you’re driving, the same rule applies: try not to stay stagnant for long periods. At least in a car, one has the convenience of pulling over at one’s leisure.
Also, be sure to build breaks into your travel schedule to give you time to relax, both physically and emotionally. Stress and pain go hand-in-hand, so dodging avoidable anxiety will inevitably keep you looser and your muscles less tense.
When you’re taking a break or have a free moment, take the time to stretch thoroughly. Stretching the lower lumbar, the piriformis, and the hamstring can help to relieve tightness and soreness in the back, as all these muscle groups act as stabilisers for the back and can lead to back pain if unattended.
Image by Sofie Zbořilová
Twist & Shout
Among the activities and/or motions that hinder the back most egregiously, twisting and lifting are among the main culprits—especially doing both simultaneously. Though it may not always feel this way, getting in/out of vehicles and lifting suitcases can be two of the trickiest activities for the back. Bending, lifting, and twisting all put pressure on the spine and can tweak an inflamed muscle or nerve in an instant. Watch your posture when entering and exiting vehicles and getting in and out of bed. And try to remember to use your knees when lifting, even if it’s a moderately-weighted suitcase, as weight added to turning increases the back pressure exponentially. Consider getting a suitcase with wheels to lighten the burden and try to avoid jerky movements when lifting or moving your luggage.
Finally, be consistent. It’s easy to forget about posture and stretching once you’ve arrived at your destination and the schedule gets busy. Don’t let yourself lose track of the goal: a pain-free travelling experience. So long as we stay attuned to our bodies, maintain a stretching regimen, and avoid awkward lifting positions, we give ourselves—and our backs—the best chance to travel without hindrance.
To help with stretching and back pain and general yoga practices, we have taken the liberty to purchase some yoga matts. There is now no excuse not to properly relax and loosen up, after your long travel day to the Alps best kept secret (Vaujany). If you are ready to book your alpine holiday then complete our short questionnaire and we can get the ball rolling for your summer holiday (or winter if you prefer)!
Image by xxolgaxx