Are you going on a trip? Traveling by car, plane, or train, can cause joint and body pain due to prolonged positioning and poor ergonomics. In this month’s blog, we would like to share some strategies that can help you avoid injuries while traveling, so you can focus on enjoying your time away.

First: Body Mechanics with Lifting

Make sure that you are facing your bag or suitcase square on and squat with your bottom going out behind you. Your knees should NOT go forward past your toes.

If you are lifting into:

  • the trunk of a car, lift the bag to your belly button and rest it on the trunk. Turn your feet so your belly button and toes are always facing the same direction, and slowly lower the bag into the trunk.
  • the overhead bin of an airplane, lift the bag to one of the seat’s armrests, as a mid way point, then lift it to your belly. Next, turn your feet and set them wide for a sturdy stance to face the bin and and press your bag overhead to the compartment. Do not hesitate to ask someone for help. Doing a 2-person lift is a great solution.

Tip: Do not overload your bags! Try to minimize the items you are bringing or put your belongings into a few more smaller bags that are more manageable to carry.

avoid injuries while traveling

Second: Watch How You’re Sitting

Once you are seated, adjust your posture so you can be as comfortable as possible and not flare up your spine.

  • Sit with your bottom all the way back in the seat and use something (example: a rolled up jacket, blanket, or hand towel) for low back support. This should go just above your tailbone in the small of your back.
  • Feet are flat on the floor and legs are NOT crossed.
  • Sit your back into the chair with your collarbone lifting up so you are not rounded through your mid-back.

Tip: Try to move, wiggle, and stretch frequently. Tap your toes for improved circulation (and to lessen the chance of blood clots, especially while flying). Get up and walk to the bathroom on a plane. If you’re driving, take advantage of rest stops to do shoulder rolls and neck stretches. The more you move, the less stiff you will be by the end of the trip.

Click here to learn more about proper car posture and body mechanics.

avoid injuries while traveling

Third: Stretch While Traveling

Some stretching ideas to avoid injuries while traveling include:

  • Seated hamstring stretch to lengthen the back of your thighs; watch our video demonstration.
  • Seated piriformis stretch to loosen hips/pelvis; watch our video demonstration.
  • Calf stretches when standing; watch our video demonstration.
  • Neck stretches: Tip ear to shoulder for side to side movement, turn nose toward your shoulder for improved rotation, tip chin toward chest and finally head back with chin up to the ceiling. Do NOT do full head circles; this can be irritating to the neck.
  • Shoulder rolls: Backward shoulder rolls can feel so good to loosen the mid back and shoulders after prolonged sitting, standing, or carrying bags.

Our main take-home message is to move your body as frequently as possible, lift with your brain, and be intentional. Use good form, sit with good posture, and stay hydrated!

Have a fabulous trip!

The Endurance PT Team