Updated: Jun 7
At the time of writing this I’m currently sat in the back of the car – darling daughters been upgraded to the front to juggle leg room & human space and I have the elderly Labrador in my footwell, on what is turning into a 10 hour drive to Cornwall - yes that’s not a typo. Never one to waste an opportunity I decided now is a good time to write this months blog, I open up to see what topic I’d planned this month and guess what…it’s “Travelling and Back Pain”. NEVER has there been a more apt moment to write about the topic.
Many of us have been there, right? Stuck, no room to move, can’t stop, and feeling the niggles starting. Our bodies are designed to move, and at rest our anatomy is happiest when its in neutral and supported. Often in a car or on a plane neither of these can be accommodated (she says while dreaming about stretching her knees out straight!). So what can we do?
Move….erm – how? If you’ve ever been to see me about a lower back issue you’ll remember Pelvic Tilts – if you’ve no idea what I’m on about, rehab my patient can tell you all about them here. Another couple are the lovely wiggles. These exercises really don’t require any space and it’s surprising how some gentle movements can help alleviate stiffness and pain. To be clear – don’t do exercises if you’re driving! But if you’re passenger or, (and I hope you’re not) stuck in an hour-long queue with your engine off, give them a go.
Blood flow. If you’re in the fortunate position of having heated seats they can be helpful in keeping the circulation going around your back and relieving any discomfort, but if not then some muscle rub or stick on heat patches will have the same effect.
Walk. If & when you get the opportunity to, make the most of it – don’t just hop in & out of the car to get fuel, a 2 minute walk round the car park and a good wriggle & stretch before jumping back in will eek out the stiffness that’s got into your muscles in that time.
Posture aware. We often find ourselves naturally leaning toward one side for way too long – especially if we’re the driver. Be conscious of what position you’re in and if you find yourself crooked and twisted to one side, have a wriggle and try and even up. There’s no such thing as bad posture, just prolonged, abnormal positions!
Lift sensibly! Travelling is usually accompanied by luggage – and possibly some awkward lifting – try to avoid hauling super heavy cases in/out of deep boots or roof boxes, use more, smaller bags/cases where possible. And if you are using big cases and lugging them around airports etc be sensible – switch which side you’re pulling the case on, use a back pack not a tote bag, and draw your tummy in to use those core muscles when you are straining.
These simple hints and tips should help, but if you do have concerns please do reach out. Remember when it comes to our bodies a stitch in time really does save 9!