by Lorraine Breau-Thompson, PT
Many people make plans to travel but don’t always anticipate having to do it while experiencing low back pain. There are a few things we can do to decrease the stress on our back and to make our trip more comfortable.
If travelling by car, it is recommended that you make frequent stops so that you can get out and move. A few stretches and a short walk can keep you comfortable for longer. Make sure that your vehicle has adequate lumbar support for your body type. If you need a little more, you can either roll up a towel or place a small pillow in the small of your back. Adjust your seat to support your best posture. If you are not driving, you can try to change the position in which you are sitting, and perhaps try doing a few exercises such as tightening the muscles in your buttocks and bending and straightening your legs. It is good to move as much as possible. Pack a few plastic bags so that you can ice your back if needed. Disposable heat pads are also available if heat works best for you.
If travelling by plane, the same rules can apply however you will be able to move more freely once you are permitted to remove your seatbelt. You might be able to take a short walk up the aisle. You can simply roll up your jacket or a blanket and place behind your low back as bringing an extra pillow is not always convenient. If possible, use a suitcase with wheels so that you can wheel it instead of carrying. Bend your knees when you are about to lift your suitcase and avoid twisting. If needed, ask for help to lift your bags onto or from an elevated surface. Try to limit the weight and quantity of luggage.
There are many other forms of travel but many of these same principles can be applied. With a little planning and patience, your back will feel better once you arrive to your destination, making your trip more enjoyable.