The Aches And Pains Of Traveling

Back Pain
By: Ryan WeisgerberCC BY 2.0

Everyone needs a vacation to get away from the stresses of the real world, but what if travelling to your dream destination causes unexplained aches and pains? Unfortunately, the lack of activity and keeping your body in the same position for an extended period of time can cause issues in your back, legs, shoulders, neck, and other parts of your body. There are also travelling conditions that can contribute to your aches and pains; such as long waits, sitting or standing for hours at a time, and lugging around heavy baggage.

Below are some of the most common causes of aches and pains while travelling and how to prevent them.

Know The Reasons Behind Your Pain

  • Aches. Aches in the body are felt when your body is at rest for a long period of time. These aches are usually caused by a contracted muscle, ligament, or tendon. Aches tend to go away when you get up and move around.
  • Tingling. When you feel tingling in a part of your body, this usually means blood flow to that area is constricted or a nerve is pinched.
  • Cold. This happens when circulation to the muscles in hands and feet has stopped. Cold muscles are often helped by moving around and increasing blood flow to those areas.
  • Cramps. Cramps occur when you’re dehydrated, or when overuse and inactivity cause muscles to contract. Stretching muscles should reduce or eliminate the cramps.
  • Knots. Knots occur when muscle fibres are arranged into clumps. Massaging the knots can break up the fibres and help them realign.
  • Spasms. Spasms are cramps that come and go in waves. Stretching the muscle should relax it and stop the spasms.
  • Tension. Tension happens when when a constriction of blood flow is caused by an irritated muscle. This pain is caused by physical or mental stress and can be managed by practising relaxation techniques.

Prevent Your Aches And Pains

Decrease Strain While Traveling

  • Reduce stress. When you are under physical or emotional stress, you tend to tighten and contract your muscles.
  • Travel light. Carrying heavy luggage can be a pain, literally. Try to pack as light as possible so you don’t have to carry so much weight, and it will decrease the strain on your body.
  • Get comfortable. Find a comfortable position whether you’re on a plan, train, or in a car. Bring a blanket, pillow, and neck rest.
  • Leave work at home. Trying to do work on your laptop while travelling can put a strain on your eyes, it can also cause you to sit in a weird position putting strain on your back.

Get Moving While Travelling

  • Stretch. If you’re going to be in a seated position for a long period of time, get up and stretch every once and a while. This loosens muscles that are tight from stress.
  • Take breaks. When driving, make frequent stops to reduce fatigue and stretch out.

Take Care Of Yourself While Travelling

  • Get plenty of rest. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before you travel.
  • Eat well and get plenty of fluids. Dehydration or lack of nutrition can contribute to aches and pains.
  • Exercise. Try to squeeze in some time for exercise.
  • Dress comfortably.

If these pains persist a week or two after travelling, you should probably see a physical therapist.

About the author

Trisha Banks

Trisha Banks is a blogger for Matthew Boes M.D. Orthopaedic Surgery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Trisha travels often and wants to know what causes her aches and pains and how to prevent them.

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