Travel Healthy and Protect Your Back

Travel can often lead to back pain. Between heavy luggage, uncomfortable transportation and unfamiliar beds, travel can leave our backs vulnerable to further injury.

According to Daveed Frazier, MD, of Atlantic Spine Center, “Travel can be extraordinarily hard on the spine. The very idea of travel can be daunting for those with pre-existing back or neck pain.”

Here are some tips from Dr. Frazier about how to protect your back while traveling:

  • Try to use luggage with wheels to avoid carrying heavy bags
  • Bend at the knees rather than at the waist when lifting bags
  • Avoid twisting the lower back while lifting bags
  • Distribute weight evenly on each side of the body
  • Alternate shoulders when carrying bags to avoid stressing one side of the back
  • Rent a pushcart to move through stations and airports
  • Use curbside check-in at the airport
  • Use a lumbar support pillow for your lower back. Rolling up a sweater or blanket also works.
  • Use a travel pillow around the neck
  • Align your back against the back of your seat and avoid hunching
  • Get up frequently and move around to avoid stiffening muscles
  • Pack your own bed pillow

So, what do you do if your back pain does flare up on vacation despite your best efforts? Here is what Dr. Frazier recommends you might want to have on hand:

  • Cold packs
  • Hot packs
  • NSAIDS: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Comfortable shoes

Dr. Frazier says, “Being aware of some common mistakes while traveling can help you avoid aggravating any existing back or neck pain or experiencing new discomfort in those areas. Everyone wants their vacation to be a relaxing, stress-free time. Often it takes just a few simple back-friendly precautions to make sure that holds true.”