8 Top Tips for travelling with Lower Back Pain

According to the NHS, lower back pain causes more disability than any other condition, affecting nearly 1 in 10 people and becoming more common with increasing age. The condition is most common here, in Western Europe, with many travelling with back pain.

Another study shown on the NHS website (written by the Mail Online) reveals that slouching and driving for long periods without breaks is causing 8 in 10 Britons to suffer from severe lower back pain. This includes sprains, strains, bulging discs and chronic pain. These conditions can all prevent people from taking their dream holiday and/or making their daily commute unbearable.

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If you are in pain I recommend seeking advice as soon as possible to find out exactly what the diagnosis is so you can start treating your problem in the best way to promote healing – especially if you have a holiday looming! No one wants to be travelling with lower back pain. Generally the quicker you treat an injury the quicker it will respond. Sadly, so many people come into the chiropractic clinic in a panic the day before their holiday, worried travelling with lower back pain will ruin their trip. 

If this sounds like you, get yourself assessed by a professional who can provide guidance on the best environment for healing, and strategies to prevent further flare ups.

  • Book the best seat – If you are lucky enough to fly with more leg room, or first class, this extra space is great news! However, most of us travel in a standard upright seat with limited leg room. In these circumstances I recommend booking an aisle seat so that you can get up regularly with as little disruption as possible.

  • Mobilise your Spine – Focus on moving your spine, hips and gluts every day on holiday. Learning to activate (switch on), the gluts and core can take the pressure off the back.

  • Plan ahead – Preventing possible injuries is the secret to avoiding back pain. For example, when you exercise it’s very important to do it correctly (with good form). This is best done using a recommended / experienced personal trainer or Pilates instructor. Some trainers have a fantastic eye for detail and precision which is really important for injury prevention and retraining motor patterns.

  • Travel light – Think about what you really need while you’re away, leave everything else behind. For hand luggage, preferably use a small backpack and make sure the straps are tight and fitted so it doesn’t weigh down too hard. If you are taking luggage to check-in, keep it light and make sure it has wheels. Think about how many times you’ll need to lift it during your trip (putting it in an overhead locker on the flight, lifting it into the car, etc). And remember to lift with your legs and hip hinge, not your back.

  • Use your jacket or sweater as a pillow – You can take your own pillow but remember that is another thing to carry. Using a lumbar support really does help cushion and straightens the spine, reducing the chance of slouching and alleviating pressure. 

  • Pick a hotel with a pool and/or Pilates facilities – Pilates and swimming are a nice way to gently keep your spine moving. Remember to listen to your body; if you feel pain it’s telling you something’s not right. It’s likely your posture or exercise is the problem, so I recommend you work with an experienced Pilates instructor. With swimming, keep your spine straight (front crawl or back stroke) as this tends to be the safest position (no breaststroke). Sculling is also nice gentle way to move in the water. If you aren’t a great swimmer, using floats to move around in the water. Being in the pool minimises the effects of gravity and takes the strain off your joints. Moving around is better than sitting around.

  • Watch your diet – We can all be a little too blasé about what we eat, especially while on holiday. Remember that inflammatory foods (refined sugar, fried food, artificial additives, processed foods) are likely to contribute to your discomfort. Eating foods with good nutritional value such as oily fish, blueberries and broccoli will provide your body with a better fuel source for repair. Obviously, we want to experience the culture and cuisine of our destinations, but all in moderation, balanced with healthy meals. Eating the wrong foods can cause inflammation and lower intestinal bloating which can switch off your core and result in an overused, sore back.

  • Keep hydrated – Fluids are important to keep our cells and discs at their optimum. Discs are the spongy shock absorbers between each vertebra in our spine; if they aren’t hydrated, the transition of shock when our feet strike the ground is increased up through our spine. If you feel bloated when you drink a lot, try increasing the amount of water-rich foods you eat, such as cucumbers and tomatoes (both contain 95% water).

Happy holidays from KH Chiropractic Aldgate. For more information or a pre-holiday treatment so you aren’t travelling with lower back pain, please call 020 3633 0565 or email us at info@khchiropractic.com