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5 Tips to Save your Neck and Back During Summer Travel

Summer is FINALLY here, which means many of us are getting ready to do some traveling! Whether you’re headed up to the mountains for a weekend or planning a flight across the Atlantic, it’s so important that you make sure you’re taking care of your body. Back and neck pain are the most common travel-related complaints we get from clients, and we want to make sure everyone has these five tips in their back pocket to prevent pain and injury!

1. Interrupt your sitting

The biggest strain on your body while traveling — whether you’re on a plane, bus, train, or in a car — is undoubtedly the prolonged periods of sitting in cramped spaces. Our bodies are made to move continuously throughout the day. On road trips, getting out of the car is critical for keeping your neck and back healthy. If you pull over at rest stops for a bathroom break, try adding a five or ten minute walk each time. Take advantage of scenic vistas to walk around, and ask your physical therapist for tips on healthy stretches that work for you to lengthen your spine and work through any pain or stiffness.

Flying is notorious for triggering back pain and spasms, especially in older adults. If you fall asleep on planes, you’re also more likely to end up sleeping in an uncomfortable position (often putting a lot of strain on your neck) and wake up feeling stiff and sore. If you can, we recommend choosing an aisle seat on planes so that you can get up and move more frequently without bothering your neighbors. Try getting up every 30 minutes to an hour on longer flights to walk to the back of the plane, stretch, and spend five minutes standing (if it is safe to do so, of course!). And if you plan on sleeping for part of the flight, try using a supportive neck pillow to reduce the strain on your vertebrae.

2. Use lumbar support

In addition to neck pillows on flights, you might want to invest in some reliable lumbar support for all modes of travel. We use lumbar pillows specially designed to take the pressure off of your spine that accumulates while sitting for prolonged periods. They help maintain the natural arc of your spine and promote healthy posture. You can even use a lumbar support pillow when sitting at your desk at work or home!

3. Stay hydrated

We all know that it’s important to stay hydrated, but why is it especially critical for avoiding back and neck pain during travel?

Well, water is the vehicle responsible for transporting nutrients to your cells, including the nutrients your muscle cells need to do their job. Dehydration causes muscle cramps because it deprives your body of electrolytes. Proper hydration increases strength, balance, and flexibility. Water also helps to lubricate your joints, which is a bonus for keeping your spine working smoothly and allowing it to support the movements of your entire body. So if you’re planning to hit the road soon, make sure you bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up regularly. And the extra bathroom breaks will give you an excuse to stay moving!

4. Pack light

No matter where you’re going or how you’re getting there, traveling involves packing, and packing too much stuff can be a quick recipe for back pain. Anyone who has flown knows that lugging multiple bags and/or suitcases around an airport is not only exhausting and stressful, but can leave you sore and unbalanced for days. Plus, you may have to lift a heavy bag in and out of the overhead compartment or carry a backpack with you as you’re exploring your destination.

Even if you’re traveling by car, you still have to load and unload your bags, carry them to wherever you’re staying, and still make sure there’s enough space in the vehicle for everyone to have decent legroom! Your best bet is to pack light, no matter what kind of trip you’re taking. If you’re bringing a suitcase with wheels, pack heavier items in there so that you don’t put unnecessary strain on your neck and shoulders. Opt for a backpack instead of an over-the-shoulder bag to avoid uneven distribution of pressure, and stock it with your water bottle, small travel essentials, and healthy snacks.

5. Prepare your body

The best way to prevent injury or pain in general is to maintain an active lifestyle that incorporates healthy, biomechanically correct movement on a daily basis. If you have a trip coming up, it may be worth investing in your health beforehand and meeting with a physical therapist to take an inventory of your body’s specific needs as well as potential problems. A physical therapist can help you learn how to strengthen your whole body in a way that both improves flexibility and gets rid of tension and pain. They can also teach you specific, individually customizable exercises to do during travel that will help your body take care of itself and prevent injury.

Are you taking a trip soon? Try these suggestions and let us know if they worked for you! You can also reach out to schedule a FREE Discovery Session with us! This 30-min session is a chance for you to speak with one of our specialists, tell us everything that’s been going on with you, and determine for yourself if we can help prepare you for your travels or improve your strength and mobility in general.

Happy summer, and safe travels!

What’s in Your Water? Healthy Hydration Tips

It’s officially cold and flu season, and keeping your body healthy while everyone’s stuck inside together requires a little extra effort. Staying hydrated is crucial to fighting off those viruses that everyone seems to be sharing. And if you really want to amp up your hydration routine, try adding fruits or safe-to-eat essential oils! These simple infusions can improve your immune system, clear toxins, and help you feel more energized and relaxed!

Adding fruits and herbs to your water is an easy way to make your water taste delicious – while giving you a huge boost of vitamins and antioxidants as well! Drinking fruit infused water has additional health benefits that are lacking with plain drinking water. For instance, citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes contain high levels of Vitamin C. Slicing up these fruits and adding them to your water can help repair tissue, prevent heart disease, and keep you from getting sick! Herbs are also a great asset to your overall health. For example, mint soothes the stomach while basil acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. There is even substantial research to show that rosemary can actually boost your memory. Mango improves eye health and pineapple aids digestion – the list of benefits goes on and on!

Another option that we advocate for is infusing essential oils are an excellent alternative. We love them so much that we’ve partnered with doTERRA and diffuse them in our office regularly. Did you know that you can just put a few drops in your water (make sure you’re drinking from a glass container) and it will make your water taste good while also promoting mental relaxation, energy boosts, and improved immunity. Our favorites are lemon, lime, and wild orange – and sometimes we even mix them together! If you want to know more about doTERRA and try essential oils for yourself, you can check them out here. Pro tip: sign up as a wholesale customer and you can get 25% off every time you order something!

Maintaining proper hydration will help you stay healthy through the winter, and adding fruit or essential oils to your water will help you drink more while providing numerous health benefits. If you are curious about pursuing a healthier lifestyle, get in touch! Like us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to receive our biweekly blog posts, see more information about our physical therapy and Pilates programs, and connect with our team of dedicated wellness professionals.