Seattle Chiropractor Shares How to Take the Pain Out of Travel

Seattle Chiropractor Shares How to Take the Pain Out of Travel

Hey, it’s Dr. Zapata in Seattle WA back again to share another Tip of the Week! Today, I am going to be sharing some of my absolute favorite tips to help you save your back while you are traveling. Something that I notice quite frequently from patients in my office here in Seattle is that they may leave for a trip feeling great, but by the time they return they are in much worse shape than when they left.

Now, there are a number of different reasons for this, but I want to focus on just a few small things that you can do when traveling that can really make a difference in how you feel when you get back. With that said, lets dive in!

Traveling often times requires us to use our bodies in ways that we are not used to. A few common examples of what I mean by this would be:

  • Carrying around heavy luggage and having to awkwardly hoist it into an overhead bin.
  • Sitting for an extended period of time in what are often very cramped spaces

So, below I am going to share just a few of my favorite tips to help you save your back while you are traveling.

The first tip is to be smart about your luggage! Be sure to pack light. Consider Using 2 or 3 smaller bags rather than one single large, heavy bag. This is especially important if you need to lift your bags out of a car or hoist them into an overhead bin. Also, it is important never to twist while you are lifting. Twisting while lifting is one of the most common causes of injury to the lower back. When you do lift your luggage, be sure to lift in stages. By breaking the action of lifting luggage into smaller parts, it will help reduce the likelihood of injury, and keeps you focused on proper lifting technique. This is going to help ensure that you do not put too much undue stress on your back.

The next tip is to provide support for you back during your flight. Watch your posture! It’s probably no secret to say that airplane seats can be cramped and uncomfortable, especially on those longer flights. Try to make sure that your knees are at a 90 degree angle while seated (or as close to 90 degrees as possible). If they are not, be sure to ask for pillows or a blanket to prop your feet up. This will also help to reduce stress on your back.

The third tip is to make it a point to move around during your flight. If you can, take a stroll up and down the aisles at some point during your flight. Even just a few short minutes of movement, walking and stretching can really help loosen up muscles in your back while easing stiffness.

The fourth and final tip to actively seek help from the airlines if you are traveling with back pain. One thing that you can do is to bring some empty Ziploc bags and ask the flight attendant to fill them up for you so that you can apply them to areas where you are experiencing pain. Ice is key! Just be sure to use ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time to an affected area. Heat can also help, especially if you need to loosen up tight, sore muscles. If you bring a hot water bottle, you can have the flight attendant fill it with hot water and apply that heat to an area where it is needed. Now, if you are reading this and wondering when you should use ice versus heat, be sure to check out our blog post and video that we put together a few months ago on this topic.

As a chiropractor in Seattle, I work with a great deal of patients who travel weekly for work. These are some of the tips I share with them, and I wanted to pass them along to you as well! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have found this information helpful!

For all of us at Emerald City Spinal Care, thanks and have a great week!

- Dr. Zapata and the Emerald City Spinal Care Team


8:00am - 11:00am
2:00pm - 6:00pm

1:00pm - 5:00pm

8:00am - 11:00am
2:00pm - 6:00pm

1:00pm - 5:00pm

8:00am - 11:00am
2:00pm - 6:00pm

By Appointment Only

Emerald City Spinal Care
1222 East Madison Street Suite D
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 204-8255