Sitting no matter when or where is tough on the whole body ‐ sitting for your spine is worse than sugar for your teeth! We are designed to move and move often.
Prolonged periods of sitting have been shown to have an impact on many levels of health, including digestion, energy levels and even happiness (not to mention an achey back). Regardless of how you are travelling it is important to get up and move often ‐ ideally each hour. If you cannot get up out of your seat then moving in your seat is the next best thing.
Your seated posture whilst traveling is incredibly important. No one wants to arrive on holiday with a sore back and neck. Long haul flights increase the temptation for us to sleep in poor positions.
Avoid the temptation of sleeping all twisted ‐ invest in a "neck pillow" to support your neck whilst on those long trips. I often see clients who end up with painful necks and backs after traveling because they sit twisted talking to the person next to them.
If you are going to be chatting to the person for any length of time don't be afraid to ask to swap positions every hour or so, this will allow you to look the other way and decrease the stress on your spine.
The temptation to take too much luggage away when traveling is a big one for all of us ‐ remember what ever you take you have to carry.
Minimise clothing and luggage. If possible invest in lightweight luggage and luggage that can be wheeled ‐ this can make a huge difference. Be careful lifting luggage of the carrousel ‐ you back is often stiff and tired after prolonged periods of sitting and this increases the likelihood of injury.
Remember it's not a race ‐ if you miss your luggage, it will be around again in another few moments. Get as close to your luggage as possible, use your knees and minimise any twisting and bending of the back.
No one wants a sore neck whilst they are away ‐ hotel pillows can be horrible. If it is at all possible take your own pillow! The correct sizing of your pillow allows for a beautiful and natural sleep posture - this supports the spine and allows for a great nights sleep.
If you can’t take you own pillow then you are better off to find a small pillow and "lift" it up by putting a towel or two underneath. Big pillows are a no no! In healthy sleeping posture we need to have our head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet all pointing in the same direction ‐ this means sleeping on your back or side, no stomach sleeping.
A little bit of pre‐holiday preparation goes along way. All of us at some time have gone away on holiday and got sick straight away. This is often the result of the body relaxing for the first time in months (or years!) The build up to the holiday can be stressful, and our immune system often becomes run down.
Try to ease into your holiday if at all possible. Preparation will help to decrease the last minute madness that so often goes along with leaving for that long trip. Staying fit, active and healthy before the holiday is the best way to prevent spending the holiday sick in bed with the flu!
Holidays often mean we drastically change the way we eat and drink. Especially when sitting on the plane be sure to remain hydrated. Dehydration can cause joint and muscle pain, can greatly reduce your ability to digest your food and metabolise fat, cause headaches, increase the appearance of lines in your skin, make you more prone to kidney and bladder infection!
None of these make for a good holiday. When travelling on the plane stick to water or natural coconut water to stay hydrated. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, meaning they push fluid out of your body. A glass of water per hour whilst traveling is a great start ‐ the added benefit of having to go to the toilet more often will mean that you are up and moving.
About the author:
Dr Angus Pyke is a co-owner and director of the Pyke FamilyWellbeing Centre and the founder of What Actually Works,an online health resource. He’s been practicing as a chiropractor since 1997 and is a member of the Chiropractors Association of Australia. Angus has been trusted to care for Olympic gold medallists, industry leaders, new born babies and everyone in between.