5 tips for a successful trip!
Our tips to avoid pain during long journeys
This summer, many of you are planning to go on vacation including long trips. Whether by car, plane, bus or train, these long trips often cause unwanted pain.
Here are our 5 tips for successful trips!
It is well known; the body is made to move! Indeed, when we sit for long periods, the blood circulates less in the body and we can then feel lumbar and cervical pain, numbness in the legs and postural fatigue. It is often even recommended to wear compression stockings to promote circulation in the legs but know that the best way to avoid any kind of discomfort is to move every hour.
By car, plan stops to get out of the car to stretch your legs. Whether to buy food (avoid drive-thru), to visit a tourist attraction, to admire a landscape or to go to the washrooms, all these reasons are good to get out of the car!
More difficult to do on a plane, you can always, when allowed, walk a few minutes in the aisle of the plane. Moreover, according to the studies, the flights over than 3 hours would seem to produce harmful effects for the human being, and this, even more if there are several connections. It would be essential to get up often and have a good night of sleep in the days before your departure to minimize fatigue and discomfort once you’ve reached your destination.
To prevent muscle aches, tension and pain caused by maintaining a prolonged static position, here are some exercises :
To promote circulation of the lower limbs:
Sitting on your seat, rotate the ankles by turning 20 times clockwise and 20 times counter clockwise. You can also point your toes forward and bring your foot back to you repetitively.
To stretch and relax the neck muscles:
Slowly tilt your head forward and then backward for a few repetitions then on each side bringing the ear to the shoulder keeping the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this sequence three times. You can also turn the head slowly clockwise and counter clockwise or rotate the shoulders forward and backward.
To relax the back:
In sitting position, make a few rotations of the trunk keeping the hips straight and turning the shoulders on each side. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Always in a sitting position, try to dig the lower back by tilting your pelvis forward and backward for a few repetitions.
When you have the chance to get up, gently bend your head, followed by the shoulders and trunk so as to touch the tips of your feet, then straighten slowly ending with the head. Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times.
To stretch the legs:
Bend the knee so that your heel gets closer to the buttock by holding the ankle with your hand and taking support of the other to maintain your balance. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
To stretch the arms:
Pass one hand over the head, trying to place it flat in the middle of your back (between the two shoulder blades) and push on your arm with your opposite hand and hold the position of 15 to 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch behind the arm (triceps).
2- Adopt an adequate posture
Good posture not only promotes comfort, but also acts on safety. These are the points you should pay close attention to.
Keep your back straight:
Make sure to keep the natural curves of the back by sitting on your ischium (bones of the buttocks) well in the back of the seat. Maintaining this position can be facilitated by accessories (see Tips 3).
Keep the pelvis steady:
Do not cross the legs and adjust the seat to the correct height, inclination and distance (the foot must be flat on the floor behind the brake).
Adjust the steering wheel:
The top of the steering wheel must be at the height of the chin and you must be able to put the wrist on the top of the steering wheel without taking off the shoulder of the backrest.
Have a good cervical support (neck):
Pay attention to the positioning of the head by avoiding forward head posture. To do that, adjust the headrest so that the middle of the headrest reaches the upper edge of the ears while keeping the chin slightly tucked in.
3- Use the right accessories
No matter the type of transportation, to ensure a good support of the back, equip yourself with a lumbar cushion. If you don’t have this type of accessory, you can easily roll a towel or a sweater and put it between your back and the seat at the waist level.
C-shaped cervical cushions are also a good option for sleep postures. Be careful to put the ends behind the neck for better support and do not hesitate to tilt your seat to avoid cervical flexion for a long period of time!
4- Wear comfortable clothes
Opt for loose clothes. Also, it is recommended to wear an outfit with several layers: practical during temperature variations that you can’t control.
5- Stay well hydrated
Drinking regularly helps prevent dehydration and promotes good blood circulation.
Do not neglect the planning part of your trips, it’s very important! Do not forget that it is very easy to adopt good postural habits and to move regularly despite long periods of sitting.
That being said, we wish you some nice vacation!
By Vanessa Daoust and Florence Arscott-Gauvin, occupational therapist and physiotherapist at Physiothérapie Universelle clinic of Pointe-Claire.
Saint-Amour, Marie-Claude. Pht, FCAMPT, Dip.physio du sport, L’athlète et le voyage, PHT-6014 Traumatologie Sportive, Université de Montréal, 2016
* Note: Do not try to do the exercises while driving, but during your stops!