According to the Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.com), virtually all Americans will be affected by travel pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common reasons for missed days of work. Causes range from arthritis to muscle strains, and treatment varies according to the cause. Regardless of the reason for your back pain, travel pain can be a challenge, but simple measures can greatly improve how you feel. Always talk to your doctor about new or worsening back pain, and seek his advice before implementing self-help methods.
CAR TRAVEL PAIN
Prolonged sitting can aggravate back travel pain. Adjust your seat to allow you to lean back rather than hunching forward. If your seat does not provide adequate lumbar support, place a rolled-up towel behind your lower back. Stop every two to three hours to get out of the car and walk around. Take at least one meal break per day in a table-service restaurant, which allows you to change positions, rather than relying solely on drive-through windows.
Airline seats are notoriously uncomfortable, even for those without back pain. Most seats encourage back rounding rather than proper posture. As soon as permission is given, tilt back your seat. Place a small travel pillow behind your shoulders and another behind your lower back. Get up and walk around the plane, or at least to the restroom , once every two hours.
Train seats are a bit larger and more comfortable than those on a typical airplane, and trains also provide the advantage of offering plenty of room to walk around. Make frequent trips to the dining car, lounge car or observation deck throughout the trip, sitting in different seats to change positions frequently.
If you are on an overnight train and do not want to pay for a sleeping compartment, check the seat in front of you. On most trains, the seats rotate 180 degrees. Rotate the seat in front of you, lean your seat back and use the leg rest. You will be able to lie nearly flat for comfortable sleeping, hopefully warding off travel pain.
Whether you are touring museums or exploring nature trails, most trips involve a great deal of walking. You can rent a travel scooter in most locations for a few hundred dollars a week. Canes and walking sticks are inexpensive and might help with some types of back pain. Some wheeled walkers are equipped with seats, allowing you to sit down whenever needed. Experiment with walking aids well in advance to see what is best for you.