Tips on How to Travel with Back Pain
It is no secret we love to travel and if you are reading this, then chances are, you love to travel too! Unfortunately there is one problem interfering with what we love, back pain. I have severe back pain, so Adam and I have had to find ways to make traveling with back pain possible and more bearable. Through trial and error of long trips, flights and road trips, we have created a few solutions to my problem. The two biggest ways to help with back pain while traveling are relieving the pain and preventing it. Here are our tips and tricks to successfully travel with back pain!
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Relieving Back Pain When Traveling
If you have chronic back pain, then you will most likely always have back pain when traveling. However, we can help lessen the pain by relieving it with different methods. Here is what works for us.
I will be the first one to admit, I HATE stretching with a strong passion. However, with Adam’s persistence, I have come to realize that the more I stretch, the less I suffer with back pain when traveling. When you are traveling, try to stretch at least once a day, whether that is in the morning or at night. I promise you will instantly feel relieved after you stretch from a long road trip or flight.
Here are a few of my favorite stretches that help relieve back pain.
Deep Tissue Massages
Deep tissue massages help relieve back pain the most, but also come with a higher price tag than stretching. So I typically have a professional massage if I am in severe pain after a long and uncomfortable flight. Since we tend to stay in luxury hotels, I will treat myself to a spa day so that I can continue my trip pain-free. I highly recommend this because traveling with back pain is not fun, for anyone.
In addition to the professional massages, Adam will also do his best to give me deep tissue massages. This not only helps keep our wallet a little full, but it also relieves pain on a weekly basis when we travel for long periods of time. So have your partner learn a few massaging techniques to relieve back pain when you travel together. It saves money, relieves pain and can spice up the romance! Or purchase a back massage pillow and pack for your trip. I use mine when needed at home and it works wonders.
Acupressure Massage Mat
You do not need to see an acupuncture specialist to relieve back pain when traveling with this amazing product! After reading all the raving reviews, I had to try this Active 365 Acupressure Massage Mat for myself. Now after first-hand experience, I can tell you this WORKS! After a long day of traveling or putting stress on my back, I will use this acupressure massage mat and after 20 minutes, I feel like a new person! It might sound intimidating at first to lay down on a mat with acupressure points but trust me, it feels SO GOOD! The best part, it can fit perfectly in your suitcase. So whenever I am traveling with back pain, I simply lay on my acupressure massage mat and all the pain just goes away. Furthermore, this is also great for your feet too. After a long day of standing in lines to see the Louvre, you can stand on the acupressure massage mat and your feet will feel like they are walking on clouds. Needless to say, this acupressure massage mat is my new hero for relieving back pain.
Another great way to relieve back pain after a long day of traveling is enjoying a nice hot bath with Epsom salts. We recommend packing Epsom salts with you and then drawing a hot bath in your hotel room. Or if you are staying somewhere luxurious, enjoy their spa treatments whether that be a sauna, steam or jacuzzi. After you take the time to yourself to relief the back pain, you will be ready to start your trip on a great note.
Pain Relief Medicine
Over the counter medicine such as Advil, Aleve and Tylenol do help relieve back pain when traveling. Furthermore, if your back pain is as severe as mine, your doctor could prescribe you with a stronger dosage of medicine to relieve the pain as well. Some pain relief medicine is by trial and error. Each one works differently for everyone. We both find Advil to work best for us, so we always make sure to pack a bottle when we travel.
Pain Relief Cream
Another suggestion that works great is pain relief cream. There are several different creams to experiment with such as Tiger Balm, Biofreeze, and Icy Hot. Again, like the medicine, it can be a little of trial and error to find a cream that best works for you. In my experience, I find Icy Hot to work best. As soon as I massage the cream onto my back, I instantly feel relief and do not feel back pain when I travel for several hours. Some brands even have patches to attach to your back instead of applying the cream. I prefer the cream to add a little massage into the application.
Heating pads are another great form of pain relief. However, in my opinion, they do not relieve pain as much as the creams. With that said, I do think they are perfect to pack for plane rides. The heating pads can help loosen your muscles and relieve back pain when flying. Simply ask your flight attendant to heat up your pad and enjoy the warm, pain relief. Then when you are relaxing in your hotel after a long day of traveling, you can use it again.
Preventing Back Pain When Traveling
Relieving back pain is fantastic, but preventing back pain when you are traveling is even better! I cannot promise these tips will completely prevent the back pain, but they will definitely turn your pain (depending on how chronic) from 10/10 to 3/10.
Whether you are taking a 7-day road trip in Ireland or a 20-hour flight to South Africa, staying active is very important when traveling with back pain. Staying active helps loosen your muscles instead of getting tight. Whether that means walking around the gas station when refilling fuel or walking down the aisle during your flight – you must continue to keep the blood flowing through your muscles. A tip for taking a road trip with back pain – create an itinerary with additional sightseeing opportunities between your starting and finishing point. In our Ireland road trip, we found three castles to add on our 6-hour drive. It not only made the road trip fun, but it gave us a chance to walk around and stay active.
Yes, more stretching! Stretching not only relieves the back pain, but if you maintain stretching it can prevent pain when traveling as well. The main areas to focus on stretching are your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. It is very important to stretch your glutes and hamstrings as they are heavily connected to your lower back. If your glutes and hamstring are tight, then it will affect your lower back and you will be in pain.
A back brace is my number one savior from back pain every day. So inevitably I always pack it when we travel. In fact, I wore a back brace during our entire four-day hike to Machu Picchu and my back did not hurt once! If you know that you will be walking or standing for a long period of time during your trip, I HIGHLY recommend wearing a back brace. It helps with your posture and removes some weight or pressure off your lower back.
If you are worried about it being visible under your clothes, there are several back braces that provide the support you need without being noticeable. I have worn my Mueller back brace under dresses and blouses with no fashion issues.
Back Support Pillow
This is my second savior. My back support pillow goes with me for every trip we take. I place my back support pillow on my car and airplane seat and it is a night and day difference of preventing back pain when I travel. The back support pillow helps arch your back and provides you with better posture than slouching in your seat for a long period of time. In fact, I would suggest having a back support pillow in your personal car in addition to when you are traveling. I have had my back support pillow for three years and have put it through the ringer from every day use, to backpacking throughout Europe for 3 months and safari drives in South Africa – it is still in perfect shape.
I hope these tips on traveling with back pain will help relieve and prevent the pain on your next trip. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. I am always looking for more ways to make traveling with back pain easy and pain free.