Don’t Let Pains, Strains Muscle in on Your Holiday Travel, Chiropractors Say

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ — Holiday travel can be tough on your body. Whether driving a few hours to visit the in-laws, or flying cross- country for a week-long holiday excursion, you can hardly make the most of your time if the trip leaves you tired, stressed, stiff and sore.

“All that sitting in seats that aren’t designed specifically for you can take a toll,” says Dr. Scott Donkin, a chiropractor, ergonomics expert and author of the book, Sitting on the Job. “Even though you’re sitting in a plane, car or bus, there is still activity in your body. There are pressures and forces at work.” Those forces can flatten your spine when it should remain curved or tilt your head at an awkward angle.

The American Chiropractic Association and Dr. Donkin urge you to warm up before you settle into the seat of a car or plane, and cool down when you reach your destination. Realize that a one-size-fits-all seat may not fit anyone well.

Consider the following tips before you embark on your holiday travel.

* Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Then
use rolled up pillows or blankets to maintain that curve when you sit
in your seat. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the
beltline and lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and
the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to
raise your buttocks a little.

* Check bags heavier than 20 percent of your body weight. Overhead
lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce
the risk of pain in the lower back or neck. While lifting your bags,
stand straight, away from the overhead compartment so the spine is not
rotated during the process. Do not lift your bags over your head, or
turn or twist your head and neck in the process.

* When stowing belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an
awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle
strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead,
sit in your seat and, using both hands, stow your bags in the space
directly in front of you.

* While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation
and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and
move your knees up and down.

* Adjust the air control so the air is not blowing directly on you, or
turn the air control off. The draft can increase tension in your neck
and shoulder muscles.

* Shrug your shoulders up and down, and back and forth. Stretch your
neck gently from side to side; take deep breaths and exhale regularly.

* When driving, first adjust the seat to your body; vary your arm
position on the steering wheel, and breathe deeply. By breathing
deeply, you increase airflow, stimulate circulation and reduce fatigue.

* Whether driving or flying, stretch after you reach your destination.
Take the time to stretch your neck, shoulders and legs to increase

“Because travel can completely change your regular routine, it can be very tough on your body and stressful too. See your chiropractor to help assure healthy travel,” says Dr. Donkin. “He or she is trained to diagnose and relieve problems of the spine and nervous system.”

For more information about chiropractic, or to find a chiropractor near you, visit the ACA’s Web site at

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