Winter is upon us here in Minnesota, and that means many Minnesotans have holiday visits or tropical vacations coming up in the near future. Spending time with family or exploring a new city can be fun, but the travel involved with these visits can be a pain, especially if you deal with regular back discomfort. In today’s blog, we share some tips for staying ahead of your back pain when traveling by car or plane.
Spine and Head Safety When Traveling
Here’s a look at some ways to prevent back pain flareups and to prevent new problems from developing when traveling. We’ve also thrown in some tips for protecting your neck and head too, because we also help treat injuries in these locations.
1. Stretch – Before you get in the car or on the plane, take a couple minutes to stretch your spine. This will help loosen up your muscles and prevent them from getting stiff when stuck in the same position for a while. It also helps to increase blood flow to the area, which can help stop spinal muscle spasms. Be sure to take time to stretch if you make any pitstops along the way.
2. Get Comfy – If you’re riding along in the car or plane, get a comfy seat, whether that’s shotgun, in the back or in an aisle seat. Finding a comfortable spot for your spine will be keep it from becoming overstressed while seated. If you’re riding, pack a small pillow to help get your head and neck in a good location, and if you’re driving the car, consider putting a small towel behind your lumbar spine to help give it some extra support and shift it to the correct posture location.
3. Leave Early – If you’re driving, leave 10-15 minutes earlier than needed so you can stop along the way and stretch to keep your spine and neck loose. You may put up with the discomfort if you’re running late, but if you’re ahead of schedule, you can stop for a couple minutes and rid your back of pain by stretching.
4. Medication Management – If you take prescription medication to manage health conditions or back pain, make sure you have enough to get you through your trip. In the week before you leave, look at where your supply is at and schedule a refill if you’ll run out before you return from your visit. If you’re only going for the day, and you know that long trips can trigger pain, stay ahead of your pain with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
5. Buckle Up – Severe head and spine injuries can occur even at relatively slow speeds if you’re not wearing a seat belt, so buckle up every single time you’re in the car. If traveling with others, make sure they are wearing their seat belts as well. The roads in Minnesota can be tricky once the winter sets in, so protect your head, spine and whole body by buckling up when you’re in the car.
We hope you have some pain free travels this winter, but if you need some help with your spine before or after your trip, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.