Keeping a Healthy Spine During Holiday Travels

Date:  December 9, 2015


Keeping a Healthy Spine During Holiday Travels

Family doing check-inWith the holiday season nearly upon us, many people are gearing up for travels in the next few weeks to visit loved ones or to take a much needed vacation. While time with family and vacations are relaxing and a great way to regenerate energy and zest, the process of traveling itself can often take a toll on our bodies and MSK system.

We want you to travel safe, and keep your spine safe too! Take a look at these helpful tips before you jet off this season:

Taking Care of Your Posture When Traveling1

Carrying luggage, and long flights or road trips can place stress on the lower back which may result in back pain or other musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. The following tips may assist in keeping your back safe from injury while traveling during the holidays and beyond.

  1. Supporting your lower back. Supporting the curve in the lower back is important. In some cases, airplane seats are worn out and no longer adequately support the lower back leading to the loss of curvature and additional tension on the structures. To avoid sitting for prolonged periods in an “unnatural” position, place a small rolled-up airline pillow, blanket or a towel or lumbar pillow to fit and support the curve of your lower back. Moreover, you may consider sitting in a slightly reclined position to relieve the stress on your spine.
  2. Sit Properly. While seated, your knees should be supported and bent at more or less a 90 degree angle. For example, if your seat is too high, consider placing your feet on something that can act as a firm footrest to keep your knees at a right angle.
  3. Move. Sitting in a static position for extended periods of time can stiffen the back muscles and cause creep in the spine. Movement is key to keeping the spine and MSK system healthy. Get up, stretch and move around every 20 to 30 minutes when possible.
  4. Use proper lifting technique. Use the entire body to turn when lifting heavy luggage. Pivot with your feet, not your back, so that your whole body moves, rather than only twisting your spine.
  5. Don’t make luggage or carry-ons too heavy. Manage what you pack to avoid being left with heavy luggage to carry and maneuver. Lifting excessive weight overhead, for example, can cause hyperextension injuries. Decrease your risk of injury by packing light .

If you’re going to be sitting on a long flight or waiting in airports on long layovers, remember to take time to move, stretch and relieve the stress from travel. Choose lightweight suitcases that are easy to wheel and a properly fitted backpack as your carry on. Making smart choices throughout your travels will help you to enjoy your vacation comfortably once you arrive.

1Katherine Teel, “Easy tips from Texas Back Institute to avoid Back Pain while Traveling this Holiday Season,”