With summer winding down, it’s a good time to be mindful of how we pack our backpacks as well as our luggage. As people start returning home from vacation, thinking about how we travel with luggage is important. We not only want to travel safe, we want to keep our backs in check too!
Carrying luggage on long flights or road trips can place stress on the body, which can result in aches and pains. The following tips can help you keep your back safe while travelling:
- Support your lower back. Supporting the curve of the lower back is important. Prolonged sitting can result in a loss of curvature of the spine and place additional tension on the body. When sitting, to add some support for your low back, try to place a small rolled up airline pillow, blanket, or towel between your low back and the seat. This will help keep you in good shape when it’s time to get your luggage rolling.
- Sitting in a static position for a long period of time can stiffen the back muscles and lead to discomfort. Movement is key to keeping the body healthy. Be sure to get up, stretch, take breaks, and move around every 20–30 minutes when possible, whether you’re on an airplane, train, or in the car on long road trips. If you’re unable to move that frequently, try some light stretches that you are able to do while sitting in your seat—examples of areas you can stretch easily without standing include your neck, wrists, forearms, or ankles.
- Lift properly. Bend at the knees and use your entire body when lifting. Let your leg muscles, rather than your back, do the lifting. Hold the weight close to your body and avoid twisting.
- Keep things light. Avoid making luggage or carry-ons too heavy. Lifting excessive weight can increase the risk of injuries.
- Roll it. Suitcases or bags that have wheels are often easier to travel with, depending on where you go. (If you’re backpacking, check out our backpack-related tips in our blog on hiking.)
Making smart choices throughout your travels will help you enjoy your vacation and make your return back home more comfortable.
For more information on what exercises will help strengthen your back and on what luggage might be right for you, talk to your family chiropractor.