This is the follow up to the post Is Sitting Killing Your Back? A Few Quick Fixes.
You provided some excellent questions and comments from that post so now as a reward I’ve got The Top 6 Tips to Save Your Back When Travelling. Some of these tips relate specifically to driving your vehicle and others have to do with air travel.
Tip #1 – Set the Alignment Before You Start
Do you think you feel better after travelling when you feel good before you start. And similarly don’t you think you’d feel worse after travelling if you felt tight to begin with? Probably so.
Before I get on a plane I make sure to do some foam rolling. I want to release any tension I’m carrying in my body and not put additional stress on joints. 15 minutes of foam rolling while watching tv is a small price to pay for the benefits is extends after a 5 hour flight to Hawaii.
As soon as I arrive I want to make sure to target the areas that tightened up during travel and resume light activity as soon as I can.
Tip #2 – Set Your Mirror Up High
One of the most common ways we wreak havoc on our backs when sitting is by slouching. We slide forward in the chair. Our hips tuck under. Our pelvis tilts posteriorly and we round our low back. None of which is good.
By setting your rear view mirror as high as possible, but still where you can see traffic, you’ll be forced to sit taller and minimize the potential for slouching.
And when you can’t see in the mirror anymore? Don’t adjust the mirror down. Instead sit up or pull over and take a break.
Tip #3 – Empty Your Pockets
Do you remember what George Costanza’s wallet looked like on Seinfeld?
It was so jam-packed that he could barely fold it in half to close it.
Now even if you don’t have a wallet like George make sure to empty your pockets before sitting. And not just the back ones.
It’s near impossible to establish a neutral pelvic-hip alignment when your pockets are displacing your position.
Tip #4 – Stretch Your Hips and Ankles
While driving your hips are in a flexed position and your ankle is in a plantar flexed position. When you stop to fuel up, or any rest break for that matter, look to extend the hip and dorsiflex the ankle.
This can be done by pulling the foot to the glutes for the hip and by placing the toes on the curb for the ankle. You will achieve immediate relief from these two simple stretches.
Tip #5 – Get as Much Room as Possible
With a little more room in the car you may be able to change your position slightly and minimize tightness. On flights just fly first class. Just kidding on the 1st class option but if you don’t get upgraded try for an emergency exit or check out seat guru dot com to see which rows have the most room on flights.
Tip #6 – Exercise Your Right (to stand)
With the flight crews’ permission you may be able to stand by your seat, except for take-off and landing. When you do have the chance to get up do some modifed ankle and hip stretches.
Step side to side to open up the hips. While standing sideways in the aisle reach behind you as far as possible to stretch your upper back. And tilt your torso laterally from side to side to maintain mobility. Try dragging the toes on the ground as you take a step to stretch out the top of the foot.
Basically look to move the parts of your body which are static when seated and get tight as a result.
And the really weird thing about standing is that although many will sit during the entire flight, what do they do when they get to their departure gate? Find the best seat and sit down. Stand when you have the chance.
The key thing with travel is to try and avoid confined static positions for prolonged periods of time. Seek out room and the opportunity to vary your position and stretch.
Chris okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’