The holidays are a time of excitement and busyness. Between finding gifts for everyone on your list, decking your halls, and making your travel plans, chances are, you aren’t spending much time reflecting on your spine health. However, it’s a good idea to take some preventive steps now to ensure that you don’t experience distracting back pain when you’re trying to spend time with your loved ones. If you’re traveling this holiday season, you’re at particular risk for developing or aggravating spine problems. That’s why we have put together this list of pro tips to help you travel safely and soundly this holiday season.

Take Breaks

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, it’s important to take regular breaks from sitting. Sitting for long bouts of time is bad for your spine, and can lead to back and neck pain. Moving helps your spine by promoting circulation, reducing stress on the structure, and easing fatigue. If you’re driving, make sure to take frequent breaks to stretch your legs. If you’re traveling by plane, try to book an aisle seat so you can periodically stand up and walk around.

Prioritize Proper Posture

Sitting for long periods of time is bad enough, but if you’re slouching while you’re doing it, you’re putting additional strain on your spine. As you sit, make sure to maintain proper posture in order to keep your spine aligned. Keep your back against the back of the seat and your head on the headrest. Avoid slouching forward and keep your shoulders straight, and rest your feet on the floor. If you’re driving, make sure your seat is adjusted close enough to the steering wheel that you don’t have to reach for the wheel.

Mind Your Luggage

If you can, avoid packing very heavy things that will be difficult to lift. In addition, make sure your suitcase is lightweight and has wheels so you can move about with ease. When you must lift your luggage, make sure to bend at your knees and use your leg muscles to lift, rather than your back muscles. If you are lifting a heavy bag, hold it close to your body and keep the weight evenly distributed between your feet. Also make sure to lift slowly. If you have a shoulder bag, switch up your shoulders every once in a while to avoid putting too much stress on one side.

Incorporating Stretching Into Your Days

Stretching will be a great tool to keep on hand during this holiday season. Stretching helps by improving your circulation and keeping your spine moving. Take a few minutes to stretch every hour or two during your journey. If you can, going to a yoga class over your trip would be a great way to stretch and relax your mind during this busy time of year.

Care For Your Mental Health

As much joy as the holidays can bring, they can also be an enormously stressful time of year. Between disruptions in our normal routines, more expectations and obligations, and navigating the ins and outs of certain relationships, the holiday season tends to be significantly more stressful than the rest of the year. This can significantly aggravate physical symptoms, such as back pain. Make sure you are taking care of your mental health this season to avoid physical pain. If you’re feeling stressed out, call up a friend and talk it out. You may benefit from seeing a professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. In addition, make sure you’re getting enough sun, which can be a main contributor to seasonal depression. Here in Colorado, we get lots of sunshine even in winter, but for the dark and gloomy days, you might consider a light therapy lamp. You may be running around quite a bit as you try to see everyone during your vacation, but make sure you are getting sufficient sleep. Finally, try to set aside time to exercise during your trip as a form of stress relief.

As orthopedic specialists in Johnstown, your spine health is of the utmost importance to us. If you need additional support this holiday season, we would love to help. Contact ClinTech Center for Spine Health today to learn more!