That winter chill is finally settling in and there are a few of us who are lucky enough to be packing our bags and prepping for some warmth elsewhere. Unfortunately for Australians that usually involves a long and arduous plane flight to get to our chosen destination, but we here at Beyond have compiled a few handy tips to help get you there in one piece!
Lift your luggage in stages:
You’ve rolled up to the airport drop off and you think to yourself ok I’m going to lift every piece of luggage at once and carry that to the check in, sure you could do that, but why put yourself at risk? Be smart! Airports have trollies for a reason and why carry all of the load when you can push all of it with ease!
Take note when unloading from the car though, injury commonly occurs when twisting through the spine at end range, don’t forget to hold heavy items close to the body, bend the knees and pivot at the feet in order to spread the load!
Make your own back & neck support:
Space can be paramount when traveling especially if you’re only taking carry on, so I don’t expect everyone to go out and purchase a lumbar support on the spot to take with them when they travel. Try to channel your inner “on flight MacGyver”, there’s heaps of resources within arm’s reach!
A light jumper or complementary blanket can be rolled up tight into a comfortable low back support to be placed across your lower back, don’t fret about positioning find the most comfortable spot for you! Some may find it right in the small of their back others may prefer it a little higher, one thing though is it should almost immediately provide a bit of relief if that lumbar spine starts to stiffen up or ache a bit.
Don’t forget about your neck! We’ve all seen those neck pillows, the same thing can be done by using a rolled-up jumper to support around your neck and unbeknownst to most, seats on long flights will have head rests which can be pulled forward either side of your head to lean on and help support.
Ever been caught at your desk or stuck in a seminar for an extended period of time where you had to keep seated? Sure you have, you’re probably getting uncomfortable just thinking about it now! Well same applies for traveling. Yes, it might be irritating for the person between you and the aisle but you’ll be better for it if you get up and move every now and then (ideally every 30-40 minutes) to help keep the blood flowing and stretch out those aching muscles. Doesn’t have to be an over the top 60 minute Pilates style repertoire, simply touching your toes and doing some rotations, arching the back, touching the outside of your knee with a straight back would be helpful!
Support Your Feet:
When seated if your feet are not placed on a firm surface this can add extra stress which is transferred through your low back. If your seat is too high for you to rest your feet on the ground or sturdy surface it is best practice to use the foot rests provided or use something to lift your knees to a right-angled position.
Hot or Cold:
Heat packs and forms of cold pack are easily accessible to either take in preparation for prolonged travel and can sometimes get you to your destination ache free. Cold packs can quickly be created with ice in any form of plastic bag or container. Disposable heat packs are also a cost effective and easy thing to apply before travel in order to help promote blood flow and in turn reduce stiffness.
Dry recirculated air on planes can leave your body and skin dehydrated. This increases your chances of headaches, cramps and muscular aches so keep a bottle handy and remember to rehydrate regularly, good news is this will keep you needing to regularly get up to use the toilet so that also helps the movement part of this process as well. Minimize the on-flight boozey and caffeinated refreshments where possible as this will encourage dehydration.
Book Your Seat Early:
Especially if you’re carrying some form of history of back pain, check in early! Get an aisle seat prepared so you’re able to get up and move around without feeling like you’re putting somebody else out.
Relax and Switch Off:
The link between stress levels and back pain is commonly associated. An American Psychological Association study suggests that 4 out of 5 people are constantly checking their phones for email, social media and news. From those numbers, the population constantly checking their phones have displayed much higher levels of stress. So why not use this time to switch off and get away from the smartphone thus reducing your stress levels and helping you transition into holiday mode!
Please note that if carrying any injury or pain into a future trip it is best advised to consult with your health practitioner before travel as so they can have you best prepared to tackle any issues that may arise!