How to relieve neck and back pain when travelling
If sitting causes pain, take breaks in movement and stretching
About an hour after every car or plane ride, the side of my back starts to hurt, and that’s partly because bodies aren’t designed to stay stationary. “Exercise is important to keep blood flowing to your muscles and joints and prevent stiffness and pain,” Ms Louw explained. Ideally, you should get up and walk around at least once an hour when you’re feeling pain, advised Dr. Kennedy. If you’re having trouble remembering, set a timer or drink plenty of water so you need frequent bathroom breaks, he suggested. (Dr. Venesy said she prefers aisle seating so she can get up regularly.)
Regarding sitting, Ms Louw said that sitting upright or slightly inclined is generally the best position for the spine. dr Venesy added that rolling up a sweatshirt or fleece and placing it behind your lower back could also provide pain-relieving lumbar support.
Stretching can also be useful. A good seated stretch is a spinal twist where you place both hands on one leg and gently twist your torso in the same direction, then repeat on the other side, Dr. Venice. A good seated stretch for your lower back and hips is a four-person stretch where you place your right heel on your left knee and lean forward and vice versa, she added. dr Kennedy said standing up and bending backwards slightly might also feel good. (If you have pain from standing for long periods, doing the opposite might ease your pain — leaning into a forward bend, he said.)
If you experience leg cramps when sitting, try pumping your ankles — alternately pointing and then bending your feet — with your knees bent and straight, Ms Louw suggested.
Avoid neck pain by reading or viewing tablets at eye level and using a neck pillow
If you’re like me, you look down a lot—at your phone, a tablet, or a book—when flying or driving. But this position can cause neck pain, said Dr. Kennedy. It’s much better to bring things closer to eye level. Some planes now have devices that allow you to hang your phone or tablet from the back of the seat in front of you, he said, and you can also buy accessories that do this for you (or even Make one out of a sick bag).
If you find yourself dozing off on a plane or car, you might want to invest in a neck pillow as well. dr Kennedy prefers designs that are thinner in the back than on the sides because they don’t tilt your head too far forward when you’re leaning against the seat.