Travel Fitness

With the holidays upon us, many of us are traveling long distances to visit with friends, relatives or just taking advantage of vacation time. Sometimes this means lifting heavy luggage, sitting for long periods of time or disrupting normal routines that keep us in line. Here are some little tips to keep you functioning at your best during these busy days.

Q: How should I lift luggage out of the trunk of the car?
A: Anytime you lift something heavy, it is best for the object to be as close to you as possible. It is also helpful to face the object rather than stand with your body twisted to the object. For items in the trunk of your car, it may be helpful to put one foot on the bumper of the car, first sliding the object as close to the edge of the trunk, keep the small of your back with a slight hollow in it, and then lifting the object with your arms and legs. You may need to get help if it is too heavy for you to lift alone. Remember to use good common sense.

Q: Any tips for long drives in the car?
A: Small towel rolls that fit into the small of your back often gives a little more support to the lower back. The towel roll should be sized so that the curve that you have in the lower back in standing is maintained in sitting. There are also lumbar rolls/cushions that are available in medical supply companies or drug stores.

Q: Any suggestions for long plane rides?
A: I usually recommend getting 2 airline pillows and a blanket for long flights. You can place one pillow behind your lower back and the other you can sit on (towards the back of the buttocks). Or you can use the blanket to fit into the small of the back or under your buttocks. I also recommend walking around the plane every so often (once to twice an hour).

Q: Any suggestions to keep my neck from getting stiff while driving?
A: You can do gentle stretches to your neck every 30 minutes. Also, driving with your arms supported also helps (pillow on your lap if the arm rests don’t match your body).

Q: How long should I drive at a time?
A: I usually tell my patients who have painful backs to stretch at least once an hour. That means stopping the car in a safe place and getting out and walking about for a few minutes. The stretch helps the legs and back.

Q: After driving for a long time, would you suggest getting the luggage out of the trunk right away?
A: No. Walk around a bit first, stretch you back (if you can ) in the extended position (arch your back backwards) or lie on the floor on your stomach and push up with your arms. Only do this if you are able to do so without discomfort. Only after you feel stretched and somewhat rested, then get the luggage out.

Hope your travels are safe and pain-free. Hope these little tips help. Have a wonderful holiday season.

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