Memorial Day weekend is the “unofficial” season’s first day of summer. AAA predicts at 39.2 million individuals will be traveling during this weekend. This is 8.3 percent higher than the previous year and that could mean an increase in neck and back discomfort for a lot of people out there, particularly those over 40.

Then why is it that traveling can cause the most havoc upon our backs?

Aircrafts, road trips and trains usually involve a lot of driving and sitting, which necks and backs do not like to be doing frequently and for long periods of time. You’re usually off your routine when traveling and rest on surfaces that you’re not used to. All of these and more so when they are put together – can trigger old neck and back discomfort.

There are many things you can do on the road to alleviate neck and back discomfort.

Here are my four best travel tips:

Utilize the 30-minute rule.

The greatest burden on your body during traveling is definitely the extended time spent sitting down – usually in cramped areas. Our bodies are designed to move around continuously all day long. If you can, getting up of your seat frequently is vital to keep your neck back active and healthy. Motion is a great moisturizer. One of the most effective ways to take care of the neck as well as your back is to break any posture that is prolonged – particularly sitting for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you’re unable sit for more than a minute and then you can try to arch your back or lifting your arms above your head while you sit. Try a few neck rolls and chin Tucks to stretch out your spine. As you stretch your spine more and stretch your spine, the more comfortable your spine will feel.

Use a lumbar roll

Our spine is composed of distinct curves and has an excellent reason. They’re designed to help keep forces in check and withstand shocks – and it’s better to keep these curves. If you sit for long periods at a desk, the curvature of the lower back (lumbar spine) decreases and sometimes disappears entirely, when not supported. While it’s fine to do this for a short period of time, it can begin to cause discomfort after a period of time. A prolonged curvature of your back causes unnecessary stress to the discs, ligaments and muscles of your spine. The neck also responds to this position by taking an inclination we call “forward the head”. This could cause headaches as well as neck pain and can cause tension to be felt throughout your back as well as your upper shoulder. One of the most effective ways to prevent this is to utilize a lumbar roll that is cylindrical to keep the natural curve of your lower back. If you’re driving or sitting in a car, the lumbar support of your seat may not be enough. Use an extra towel roll, pillows, or sweatshirt and put it in the bottom of your back anytime you’re sitting. It will be easier to keep the natural curves of your spine and also put much less stress in your neck or back.

Take your pillow

The discomfort of sleeping on surfaces that we’re not used to could not only make a vacation miserable but also cause unwelcome neck and back discomfort. If you’re able, bring your preferred pillow from home, or request additional pillows at the place you’re staying. If you find a mattress that is too hard for you You can utilize pillows to cushion certain areas of your body such as the shoulders and hips so you don’t get sore when you wake up. If a mattress feels too firm, then you could make use of additional pillows to firm the top layer beneath your waist if you’re a side sleeper. under your lower back when you’re an back sleeper, or under your stomach if you’re a stomach sleeper. Also, if the mattress is too soft or too flat , your neck is likely to end up suffering. When you’re asleep, the aim is to align your body in a manner that will allow your spine to maintain its an upright position. It’s not a good idea to have your head to be slanted upwards or downwards as it’s the most efficient method of causing the old injury to your neck, or awake with a headache.

Extend instead of bending

Have you ever considered that an most people bend or bend between three to five thousand times a day? When you travel, you’ll be at the top end of that measurement. Our spines want stability. Due to the large amount of time that we spend sitting down – we must to put in a concerted effort towards moving our bodies in the reverse direction. When traveling, seek out opportunities to stay active and upright. Walking is a wonderful exercise that is therapeutic for your spine as well as the best way to view the sights from wherever you go. When you’re attempting to follow the 30 minute rule and you’re doing it, make sure to give you back and neck relaxing stretch every when you stand to break your sitting. However, perhaps more important than anything you do while traveling will be what you’ll do once you arrive back to your home. Be careful when you jump back to your regular fitness routine or gym. All the bending and sitting caused by travel can make your spine susceptible to injuries. It’s common for you to be injured within a week or two after returning home, seemingly “out out of the blue”.

I hope that at least some of these tips help you lessen neck and back discomfort on your next travel adventure so that you can enjoy the place you’re going instead of stressing about aching back or neck. back.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates instructor, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and is a writer in the Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or reserve a seat in her upcoming Masterclass for Neck and Shoulder Pain sufferers, email [email protected], or call 603-605-0402.