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Enjoy the Ride: Tips for Pain Free Travel

By Teddi Lesoine, Chiropractic Intern

Are you traveling for the holidays? Flying or driving? We have some tips to make your travel pain free! No one likes sitting in a car or on a plane for hours and hours. Your muscles get stiff, your back is in pain, and your neck starts to ache. Here are some tips and tricks to get you through the holiday seasons until you're able to get back in to see your chiropractor.

Use proper luggage

If you’re flying for the holidays that means you have to lug around heavy luggage all through the airport, through the long TSA lines, and onto the plane. Wearing a heavy backpack or carrying a duffle bag can cause shoulder and back pain. Try to get luggage with wheels and stack your bag on top. If you do wear a backpack make sure the straps are tight and find a backpack with good cushioning. Loose straps can add more tension on your lower back and pull your low back into extension this will cause your pelvis to compensate and shift forward.

Proper ways to lift luggage

Whether you are putting luggage into your car or overhead in a plane it is so important to protect your back while doing so. Make sure you are lifting with your legs and not your back, and don’t twist your back while you're lifting. Engage your core muscles before you lift and ask for help. Make sure to engage your arms too when lifting luggage, pull it close to your body and work it up with your arm. Don’t try to quickly lift and get in your seat, you want to have slow and controlled movement. This will help ensure your safety and you’re less likely to drop luggage on someone's head.

* Quick Tip: If you are looking for a little extra fitness on your travels, be sure to offer assistance to others who look like they could use the help!

Neck and low back support

Sitting in a car or on a plane for a long period of time is always uncomfortable, and sitting is one of the hardest positions for your spine. Planes and cars don’t usually have good neck and low back support. Getting a low back pillow and a neck pillow will help your spine stay within the correct curve. If you are flying you can get inflatable supports that do not take up any space or you can roll up a jacket and use that as support.


Before you get in the car or on the plane, do a quick stretch. Stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors, abdominal muscles, pecs, and anything else that might get stiff. Stretching before will help loosen the muscles that tighten when we sit for long periods of time. Try to take breaks from sitting and stretch during these breaks. Need gas? Stretch while your car is filling up. Bathroom breaks on the plane - stretch when you are in the back of the plane. Try to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.

For some fun airport stretches and mobility, click HERE.

Mobility Tools

It might be inevitable that you get muscle knots while traveling. You can bring a lacrosse ball and roll the knots out to help prevent feeling achy and sore. Lacrosse balls don’t take up much space and are a great way to feel better while traveling. Another great option is a Mini TheraGun, these are amazing at reducing muscle aches and pains and also easy to travel with.

Move around

Lastly, moving around will be the best way to help with aches and pains. If you can get up and move around while traveling, try to do so. On planes try to get up every 30 minutes to walk or stretch. If you're driving, taking a quick walk while stopping for gas or the restroom will make you feel better.

Remember to see your chiropractor right before you travel and make an appointment for when you come back!

Teddi Lesoine is a chiropractic student attending Palmer College in Florida. She loves learning to work with pediatrics, prenatal and athletes. She will be getting Webster Certified and hopes to continue learning as much as she can from her mentors at Washington Park Chiropractic until she graduates on December 15th, 2023.


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