Spinal health is not something we often think about before or during our holidays but unexpected neck and back discomfort could potentially ruin your time away. It is better to prevent such issues arising in the first place, rather than dealing with the pain later.

Don’t let neck or back pain ruin your holiday. Here are some simple tips you can follow to protect your spine while travelling.

1.     Take Regular Breaks & Move

Whatever your chosen mode of transport, make sure to take regular breaks when possible – ‘stop, revive, survive’. The spine is designed to move – long periods of sitting in the same position can affect your spine and may cause pain in the neck and back. Moving around improves circulation, eases the stress on the spine and helps reduce fatigue.

If you are travelling by air, try to book an aisle seat so that it’s easier to move around. When it is safe to do so, get out of your seat and walk around the cabin.

2.     Check Your Posture

Sitting for long periods is bad enough but poor posture puts even more stress and strain on your spine. Maintaining proper posture keeps the spine aligned and in its natural position.

When sitting, make sure your back is aligned against the back of your seat and that your headrest is supporting your head. Keep your shoulders straight and avoid hunching or slouching forward. Resting both feet firmly on the floor will also help. If you are driving, adjust the seat and steering wheel to a comfortable position so that you’re not reaching for the wheel.

Download the Straighten Up (Australia) app from the App Store or Google Play to receive posture reminders and helpful tips throughout the day.

3.     Lifting Luggage like a Pro

Try to pack as light as you can. Not only will it mean no heavy loads to lift, it will also make the whole travelling experience less stressful. Use a lightweight suitcase with wheels that is easy for you to pull and manoeuvre.

When lifting luggage, bend at the knees and use the leg muscles rather than back muscles to lift. Hold heavy items close to the body, distributing weight evenly on both feet. When you are moving your luggage, lift slowly and in stages to protect your back. If you are carrying a shoulder bag, switch sides to avoid stressing one side of the back.

4.     Stretch

Incorporate stretching into your travelling and holiday as much as possible. This is an easy way to increase circulation and keep the spine mobile. Try to take regular stretch breaks during your travels, at least every 1-2 hours.

Use the ‘Straighten Up’ exercises – a 3-minute program designed to improve spinal health, stabilise core muscle groups and enhance health.

If you suffer from chronic or persistent back problems, it may be a good idea to visit a chiropractor before you travel. Locate your local CAA chiropractor to book an appointment.

Thinking ahead about ways to make yourself comfortable during travel can help to reduce stress and ultimately make your journey more enjoyable.

Lastly, have a wonderful trip!

For more information on maintaining a healthy spine, please visit the website of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia at www.chiropractors.asn.au