Take the pain out of travelling

by | Aug 14, 2018 | Back Pain, Physiotherapy, Posture

It’s holiday season and that time of year when those of us lucky enough to be able to go on holiday swap the commute to work or the school run for a drive to the airport or a road trip.

Travelling can be a real pain but the simple tips below might just take some of the discomfort out of sitting in the car or sleeping on the plane and leave you in better shape to enjoy your destination when you get there.

Electric Seat Adjustment Of Car


Set up

First things first. Get the driving seat set up right.

Restore your seat to the factory settings as follows:

  • the steering wheel fully up and forward
  • Seat height at it’s lowest
  • Cushion tilted so the front edge is in it’s lowest position
  • Back rest reclined approximately 30 degrees from vertical
  • Lumbar adjustment backed off
  • Seat positioned fully rearwards


Adjust to fit

Now let’s make that seat fit you by:

  • Raising the seat as high as possible to give you maximum vision of the road but ensure you have enough head clearance space.
  • Move the seat forward until you can fully and comfortably depress the clutch and accelerator pedals without twisting your pelvis.
  • Adjust the cushion tilt so that your thighs are supported along the full length of the cushion and avoid pressure behind the knee.
  • Adjust the angle of the back rest so it supports all of your back and shoulders. It’s probably going to be slightly reclined from vertical.
  • Adjust the steering wheel rearwards and downwards for easy reach and make sure you have enough space for your knees. Make sure you can see the speedometer.
  • Now adjust the lumbar support to fill the small of your back with no pressure points or gaps.
  • Finally adjust the head rest to allow you to comfortably rest your head and prevent injury when breaking suddenly. Remove any pronged hair-clips as these can cause significant injury in an accident.


Sleeping on the plane

Inflatable Neck Pillow, Sleeping Mask And Earplugs

We all like a little snooze on the plane but unless you’ve got a private jet or first class ticket it’s not that easy. Here’s a few very simple things that might help.

  • Choose a good seat. Window seat if you don’t want to be disturbed by someone getting up to go to the toilet or an aisle seat for extra leg room.
  • Pack a neck pillow but wear it backwards. That way it supports your chin to stop your head bouncing forward when you nod off.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes as jeans will dig into your hips and your feet can swell.
  • Wear your seat-belt outside a blanket so the cabin crew don’t wake you up to check your all strapped in, Also let them know you want to sleep so they don’t wake you for meals etc.
  • Set an alarm on your phone (still possible in flight mode) so you wake up 45 minutes before you land to get a coffee and have you fresh as a daisy for the queue at passport control.


Exercises and breaks

Yoga Near Lighthouse

Try and plan your journey so that you can take regular breaks when driving. The highway code suggests at least 15 minutes every 2 hours to prevent fatigue.

A few simple exercises can help to loosen up the spine after a journey. Have a look at a previous edition of the newsletter which shows 10 super simple exercises everyone should know.



Woman putting her luggage on train grid commuter independence ca

Lounging around the pool might be just what you want for a holiday or maybe climbing Mount Everest is your idea of fun. Surprisingly the most common way to injury yourself on holiday is by lifting. Very often the suitcases out of the boot after that long drive or off the carousel in the airport when you’ve had an hour standing at passport control and the rugby scrum for the bags is the last thing you need. Knowing where you are most vulnerable to injury is the best way to prevent injury and therefore you pay more due care and attention to reduce your risk.


Sun Sun Sun

Enjoyment - free happy woman enjoying sunset. Beautiful woman in

Remember on holiday you’re probably going to be outside more than normal so take the appropriate precautions when it comes to exposure to the sun. We all know by now how important Vitamin D is for us and how it has been overlooked and dismissed for so long but the summer holiday is a great time to top up on your Vitamin D stores. Hopefully you’ll get plenty of that on holiday even if the weather camping in Wales wasn’t what you’ve come to expect after the last number of weeks of wall to wall sunshine. If you were mainly working through the heatwave and didn’t get out in the sun, now’s your time to put on the shorts, roll up the sleeves and get some Vitamin D but remember you can have too much of a good thing so don’t get burnt.

As always this is advice only and not a prescriptive exercise program. Consult your GP or us at spinalphysio to see if the above is correct for you.


If you have any concerns about painful joints or muscles give us a call on 01223 350622.

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