The holiday treks are about to begin which, unfortunately, can be a real pain in the neck (and back!).  Whether you are driving, flying or taking a bus/train, there are ways to cope with and prevent your body from suffering. Here are some suggestions for keeping your back healthy while you travel this holiday season.

Pack Light

It goes without saying but if you can rely on a small carry-on (even if you are driving), you will be a lot happier.  Most of us find that we’ve packed too much stuff anyway so really be selective with what you choose to bring on your journey.  If you are bringing presents, consider shipping them ahead of time to avoid having to haul them around.

Lift With Your Legs

If you absolutely must bring heavier items, make sure that you care for your back when you pick them up.  Never bend over from your waist to grab items – always crouch down and lift with your legs.

Stretch Regularly

However you travel, make sure you get up and move around regularly.  Stretch out your legs, hips, back and neck to prevent stiffness and promote circulation.  If possible, walk around for a few minutes before stretching to give your muscles time to warm up.

Bring Hot/Cold Packs

There are nifty new packs that are hot/cold within minutes of being opened and/or activated. They are small enough to fit in a purse or carry-on and can bring some much-needed relief to aching muscles.

Consider Back Support

If you suffer from chronic back pain, you may want to consider bringing either a back brace or some sort of lumbar support to add to your seat.  They might look a little silly but they can do a lot to keep you pain-free.

Hydrate and Medicate

Keep your muscles happy and hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids while you travel.  If you are prescribed medication, make sure you bring enough for the whole trip.  You can also take an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Adjust Your Posture

Avoid slouching in your chair or sitting/standing awkwardly.  It may feel unnatural at first but maintaining an upright posture can really help prevent aches and pains.  Additionally, if possible, bring an orthopedic pillow with you in order to ensure that you maintain good posture even as you sleep!

At the end of the day, you are traveling to spend time with loved ones but you also have to make sure you take care of yourself. Safe travels!