We have all returned from a vacation feeling more sore and achy or worse still, arrived at our travel destination in pain from a long car ride or airplane trip. This can be prevented by knowing what to do and what not to do the next time we travel for business or pleasure.
Sitting for a prolonged period of time, especially in a small economy plane seat or crammed into the back seat of a small sedan, can cause leg muscles to cramp up and tighten. This often happens from compressing leg muscles and their blood vessels. There are some things that can be done to avoid these and other aches and pains while travelling and at your destination:
Move around before, during and after travel. Walk and stretch prior to getting into the vehicle, and during the trip walk around the airplane and stretch in the seat. If driving, stop every 60-90 minutes on long car rides to walk and stretch. Upon arrival at your destination again walk and stretch.
Change your seating position every 30 minutes to improve circulation and avoid muscle cramping. Performing self massage on your legs may help.
Use a lumbar back support, a rolled up towel, or a sweatshirt to support the lower back, just above the hips, while sitting.
Avoid overhead lifting of bags weighing more than 10% of your body weight into the airplane overhead compartment or auto rooftop cargo box. This will reduce the chance of straining the lower back, shoulders and neck.
Be cautious to avoid awkward movements retrieving bags from the under seat compartment, or from baggage claim.
If sleeping in the airplane or auto (as a passenger), use a “U” shaped neck pillow to support the neck and head to avoid pain in the neck and shoulders and to prevent headaches.
When sleeping in different beds at hotels or at the homes of friends and family, be aware of a bed that may be too hard or too soft and modify the sleeping surface with blankets to soften a hard mattress, for example.
Travel with your favorite pillow or a travel (smaller) pillow of the same type. Using a proper pillow for you will allow for more comfortable and restful sleep.