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Traveling Tips

  • Make sure your car seat is adjusted to the point that it allows you to sit comfortably and firmly against the seat back without having to lean forward or stretch.
  • Engage your seat and shoulder belts and ensure that your headrest supports the center of the back of the head.
  • If you are the driver, adjust the seat so you are as close to the steering wheel as comfortably as possible. Make sure that your knees are slightly higher than your hips. Place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closest to your knee. If you cannot easily slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat.
  • Foam back supports or pillows designed especially for driving can help minimize fatigue and strain on your lower back. Make sure that the widest part of the support is between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
  • Exercise your legs while driving by opening your toes as wide as you can and counting to ten. During a five count, tighten your calf, thigh and gluteal muscles (in that order), followed by relaxing those muscles. Roll your shoulders forward and back, making sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
  • Take frequent rest breaks on long trips.

Air travel:

  • Before embarking on your trip, try to do a quick warm up by taking a brisk walk or doing simple stretching exercises, such as knee-to-chest pulls, trunk rotations, and side bends with hands above your head and fingers locked. Also, cool down once you reach your destination. Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
  • As a rule, check all bags that are heavier than 10 percent of your body weight.
  • Do not overload your carry-on baggage. Overhead lifting of a carry-on can lead to a muscle strain or sprain. When lifting your baggage to place in the overhead compartment, stand directly in front of the compartment so the spine is not rotated. Don’t lift your bags over your head, or turn or twist your head and neck in the process. Ask the flight attendant for assistance.
  • Use suitcases with wheels and a sturdy handle. Carrying heavy suitcases is a surefire way to strain your shoulders, back, hips, and knees. Do not overload the suitcase. Invest in a smaller “Pullman-type” suitcase to handle overflow.
  • Vary your position occasionally while seated on the plane. This helps to improve your circulation and avoid leg cramps. Occasionally exercise your legs and hips by bringing your legs in and moving your knees up and down. Try propping your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.
  • Avoid sitting directly under the air vents above you. The draft can increase tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
  • When stowing something under the seat in front of you, use your feet to gently guide the object. Avoid bending over and crouching.
  • When you are seated, use supports, such as rolled-up pillows or blankets, to maintain your spine’s natural curve. Tuck the support behind your back and just above the beltline and lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest.