If you travel a lot, you can feel back pain at times. Well, this is an often side effect from sitting for a long time, carrying backpacks and squirming to get comfortable. We share 5 simple ways to help you to avoid pain and keep your back healthy.
- Get your luggage down the stairs
When I need to travel during holiday season, I try to carry my luggage down one flight of stairs without scratching the floor. Despite the proper body mechanics, it’s hard to protect my spine while lifting my 50 pound suitcase down each step. So when it comes time to travel, I suffer from back pain after I get at my destination – from lifting my suitcase. Once I tried a new technique to get my luggage down the stairs, and I felt no pain again during my travels.
Lay a few bath towels at the top of the staircase. Put your luggage horizontal or flat with the handle facing you. Then hold onto both the suitcase handle and the bath towels and drag the luggage slowly down the stairs. (See pictures A1 & A2) If there is a carpet, you can skip the towels and lay the luggage flat on its side dragging it slowly down the stairs.
- Choose the right carry-on
Try to use a backpack to arrange the weight across your spine. Don’t carry your rucksack on one shoulder. Carrying a heavy side shoulder bag will make you feel pain in your back. If there is no other choice but to use a side shoulder bag, be sure your back isn’t compensating in a side bending position. (See pictures B2 & B2)
It’s very easy to overload the backpack; especially if you travel with children. A quick way to test if the rucksack is overloaded beyond what is safe for your back, it to see if the spine is leaning forward or making a C shape for counterbalancing the weight. (See pictures B2 & B2)In case the person can stand in the same tall upright position with his luggage on – the luggage off – then he can safely carry that load.
3. Sitting in the death trap position in the car or plane
Avoid sitting in the death trap position. A general postural mistake people make is sleeping with their back in a shifted position. (See pictures D1 & D2)
4. Neck pillows
People often ask me if neck pillows are good or not, and which ones to buy, so I decided to test them by myself. I noticed that airplane neck cushions often sold in airports and wellness stores are too thick so they push your head too far forward. (See picture E1)
A perfect pillow for the car or airplane must keep your neck in a neutral position. Neutral is the natural curve of your neck, and one that doesn’t put strain on the neck muscles. Ears need to be in midline with the shoulders on a side view (See picture E2) I prefer to use a sweatshirt or jacket and bunch it up, placing it behind the neck. (See picture E2—the neck pillow is a Pilates reformer pillow which you can easily take for travel)
5. Getting your backpack up the stairs when you arrive
One quick packing tip before we’ll talk about unpacking. Use big bags – equal to a clear plastic bag that would store a computer – to separate luggage things. In case your destination is a place where there is no elevator, and you need to get luggage up the stairs, use my next tip. It will prevent you from back pain. Unload as much as you can from your backpack on the ground floor. Take multiple trips to take away your shoes, clothes and everything else. By the time I carry my luggage up the stairs, it’s almost empty.