A lot of my chiropractic patients often ask me what my best tips are for looking after their spine on long journeys. As we all know, long journeys can be pretty demanding on the back and the neck, and that’s before we’ve even lifted up the suitcases!
With thousands of people set to fly out to various different countries this year, I thought I would write this blog to answer some questions and to provide some useful information. You can, however, use these tips for plane, train, car and all other journeys you may be making.
Tip 1: Take Regular Breaks from Sitting
Long journeys can normally see you sitting for a long period of time, often with a lack of leg room. It is important that you take regular breaks from sitting in the same position and get your legs moving. Not only is it important to keep mobility throughout the joints and muscles, but also to increase blood circulation to and from your legs. I recommend you stand up and take a small walk up and down the plane or train every 60 minutes of your journey. With car journeys, try stopping at the service station regularly.
Tip 2: Try using a McKenzie Roll
As a Chiropractor, I am very keen on helping people to maintain a correct posture whilst sitting. Try using a McKenzie roll, a firm sausage shaped pillow, which can be easily carried around and connected to your seat. The roll should be placed around the smallest part of your waist, where the lumbar curve begins. This will ensure that you do not slouch when sitting and will maintain the curves of the spine, the trick to keeping a good posture.
We stock the McKenzie rolls at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne and they are also available online where you can find more information here.
Tip 3: Stay Hydrated
The discs between each vertebrae in your spine are more at risk to injury when you are dehydrated. Travelling is often exhausting and you can become very quickly dehydrated, especially in hot countries. The recommended daily intake of water is eight glasses a day. It is often tempting to have a tea or coffee, or even alcohol, when travelling. Try to make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated.
Tip 4: Keep your Legs Straight out in Front of you
Travelling is often uncomfortable for your legs, especially if you have long ones, when there is a lack of leg room. It is very easy to sit in a position where one leg is crossed or one leg is higher than the other in order to sit with more space.
When your legs are not straight out in front of you, your pelvis can become twisted and as a result your spine will twist as well. It only takes a few minutes for muscles to adapt and become tight or achy in uncomfortable positions.
Try sitting with your legs out in front of you. If you have shorter legs, put something under them to ensure you are not sitting too far forwards out of your chair. If you have longer legs, opt for an aisle seat or put your belongings up in the storage departments to ensure you make the most of your small space.
Tip 5: Carry Less!
Always ask for assistance when lifting heavy suitcases. Use your legs and hinge your hips when moving suitcases to protect your back and your discs.
You could also try to separate your belongings into smaller cases to ensure you don’t have to lift heavy bags. With rucksacks, use both the straps and try and find a back with a belt support to take some of the strain off your shoulders.