Before you board the plane or get behind the wheel of your car, try out some of these tips to help support your back and neck:
- Use a rolled-up towel or small pillow behind your lower back to give you support that airplane and car seats do not provide.
- Buy a neck travel pillow, foam or inflatable, to help prevent neck strain.
- Be sure to plant your feet when seated. If your feet don’t reach the floor in a plane, find a footrest or something solid to prop them on. On long drives, utilize the car’s cruise control feature so you can rest both feet on the floor.
- Posture is critical, so be sure to sit up straight. Slouching and hunching your upper back and shoulders causes your neck to shift forward and puts significant mechanical stress on the neck and back.
- Get up and move. Whenever possible, get up, stretch and move around. Take frequent breaks when driving to stretch and walk. If you are on a long flight, get up to walk and stretch out.
- When lifting luggage, move the bags slowly and in stages. Never twist your spine while lifting.
- Consider bringing instant hot packs and cold packs in case you need them. On long trips applying moist heat packs can reduce the chances of your back tightening up.
By incorporating these tips during your summer travels, you can significantly help decrease or prevent excess pain on your back and neck.
David J. BenEliyahu, DC, FICC
Administrative Director, Back Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital