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  • How to Keep Traveling From Being a “Pain in the Butt”

    Does travel make your low back, hips, or legs hurt? If so, you’re not alone. I can’t tell you

    Hip pain
    Photo courtesy ABMP

    how many people come to see me with leg, hip, and low back pain after traveling. Between lack of leg room, too much seat depth, seats that are too narrow, or seats that won’t recline without banging into someone else, what’s a traveller to do? Never fear, I have a few suggestions.

    Always travel with:

    • a small pillow or folded towel (or two)
    • Ice pack, cooling gel, or the like
    • warming gel, heat patches, or heating pad
    And take these preventive steps:

    1. If the back of the seat bottom is lower than the front, place the towel or pillow underneath the back portion of your hips to raise them to a comfortable level. Ideally, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees.

    2. If the seat back is uncomfortable, place a towel or pillow behind you where ever you feel pain or lack of support.

    3. If the seat is too deep (i.e. if you sit with your back against the seat back and your knees won’t bend), place the towel or pillow(s) behind you so your knees can bend and you still have back support.

    4. If the headrest pushes your head forward, place the pillow or towel(s) behind you to move you forward in the seat while still providing support. Believe it or not, this can cause back, hip, or leg pain as the rest of the spine compensates for the awkward head-forward position.

    5. Move around. Your body is designed for movement and gets stiff and achey when it stays in one position too long. Remember what your mom said about your face staying that way? Believe it or not, she was kinda on the right track (but we won’t tell her that). If you’re traveling in a car stop every couple hours, get out, and walk around. If you’re traveling by plane or train, get up every 1-2 hours and walk up and down the aisle. Your back, hips, and legs will feel much better and you will have a more enjoyable vacation because of it.

    6. If, despite all this you still end up with back, hip, or leg pain, it’s time for the remedial action of heat and/or cooling. First check to see if the area is red, or warmer to the touch than the surrounding area. If it is, use your cooling gel or ice pack to cool it down and reduce inflammation. If there’s no redness or heat, use your warming gel or patch to loosen the muscles then give them a gentle stretch (if you use a heating pad limit the time to 15 minutes). Repeat once per hour until you feel better. P.S. if you feel fine while the heat is on but the same or worse when you take it off, STOP and switch to ice or cooling gel.

    Here’s wishing you a pain-free vacation!!! If you know someone who’d like to have a pain free vacation, please share this with them. Thanks!!