Traveling is supposed to be a time of fun and adventure. Still, it can quickly become a pain – literally – if you suffer from back problems. Carrying heavy suitcases, sleeping in unfamiliar beds, and spending hours sitting on planes or in buses can all take their toll on your back, resulting in everything from a mild ache to debilitating pain. And once your vacation is ruined by back problems, enjoying the rest of your trip can be hard.

According to research, as many as 80% of adults will suffer back pain at some point in their lives. So if you’re one of the millions who suffer from this condition, you’re certainly not alone. Here are a few tips to help you make your next trip more comfortable, even if you have back problems:

Invest in a Consultation

If you haven’t seen a doctor about your back pain, now is the time to do it. They can assess your individual situation and recommend exercises, stretches, or other treatments that can help relieve your pain. If you have a specific medical condition that causes your back pain, they can also provide you with a note that you can bring with you on your trip in case you need special accommodations.

For instance, your general physician did a physical exam and suspects that you might have scoliosis, a curving of the spine. You’ve never been diagnosed before, but you’ve started to experience back pain due to the condition. In this case, seeing scoliosis experts before your trip is essential.

The experts will do more than just correctly diagnose your condition. They can also make the necessary recommendations for how you should take care of your back while traveling. They might suggest wearing a supportive brace or carrying your suitcase in a certain way to avoid further pain or injury. The key is to do your research and find a clinic that specializes in scoliosis to get the best possible care.

Wear the Right Shoes

The type of shoes you wear can significantly affect how much pain your back feels while traveling. High heels, for example, might look great with your outfit, but they can also wreak havoc on your spine. If you must wear them, try to limit them to short periods and stretch your back and legs before putting them on.

Flats or low-heeled shoes are a much better option for people with back pain. They provide support without putting unnecessary strain on your back. If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, consider bringing a pair of comfortable sneakers you can change into when your feet start to hurt.

Pack Light

man with suitcase in an escalator

Carrying around a heavy suitcase can worsen back pain. When you carry a heavy bag, your posture suffers, and the strain can cause pain in your lower back and legs. If possible, travel with a carry-on bag that you can easily lift into the overhead bin.

If you must check a bag, make sure it has wheels so it is easy to roll it behind you rather than carrying it on your shoulder. And when packing, try to evenly distribute the weight, so the bag is balanced. This will make it easier to carry and less likely to cause pain.

Don’t forget about your personal items, too. A heavy purse or briefcase can also cause strain on your back, so try to travel with a smaller, easy-to-carry bag.

Make Time for Exercise

Sitting for long periods–whether on a plane, bus, or train – can aggravate back pain. To counter the effects of all that sitting, get up and move around every 30 minutes or so. If you can’t leave your seat, do some simple back exercises or stretches to keep your muscles loose.

This is especially important if you have a long flight ahead of you. Get up and walk the aisle every few hours, and if possible, do some light exercises in your seat. This will help keep your back from stiffening up and will make it easier to move around once you arrive at your destination.

Once you reach your destination, consider exercising, even if that means exercising inside your hotel room. A short workout will help relieve muscle tension and improve your overall mood.

Take Care of Your Back While Sleeping

Sleeping in a hotel room can be tough on your back, especially if the bed isn’t comfortable. If you typically sleep on your back, bring a small pillow to place under your knees. This will help you maintain a natural curve in your spine and take the pressure off your lower back.

If you typically sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to keep your hips and pelvis aligned. This will help prevent pain in your lower back.

You might also want to consider investing in a portable lumbar support pillow to bring when you travel. This will help ensure that you have a comfortable place to rest your back, no matter where you are.

By following these tips, you can make traveling with back pain more manageable. With a little planning and preparation, you can focus on enjoying your trip rather than worrying about your pain.

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