7 Exercises to Perform While Traveling to Maintain a Healthy Back
Travel is going to be huge this summer. The cost of gasoline has been down, and airfares are affordable for more of us than ever before and our economy is doing well allowing many more of us the opportunity to travel.
One of the unfortunately consequences of travel is that we are sitting for long periods of time while we go from place to place, which is challenging for many of us. Long rides in the car for anyone with a problematic lower back can cause problems during many vacations, and often, with the right exercises, you can improve your flexibility and improve the way your lower back functions and feels.
Luggage can be quite heavy and can be the source of lower back pain when traveling, forcing us to modify our plans due to back pain.
Is your back ready for the rigors of travel? How can you keep your back in shape so the activities of your trip do not leave you stranded with back and neck pain?
Lower back and spinal fitness can help you stay out of trouble, since well toned muscles can increase your ability to sit for longer periods of time pain free, and also help you prevent lower back pain when moving luggage around.
Here are some easy exercises you can perform while you travel to help keep your back in top shape. None of these exercises require any special equipment. Foam rolling will of course require a foam roller. Trigger Point Companies “The Grid” is an excellent choice for travel because it is hollow and allows you to pack it easily in a bag, and you can pack your underwear and socks inside of it, taking up very little room in your bag.
Originally, a Yoga technique, bridging is one of the best ways to loosen up a stiff lower back when you travel. A simple Yoga bridge, with both or one leg can help tone the lower back muscles and improve your lower back strength and flexibility. Read more here.
Planks are another exercise that has its basis in Yoga. Planks help stabilize the core muscles and improve overall stability when walking and bending. If you want to have a stronger lower back that is more injury resistant, try doing a side plank or standard plank. Planks can be diagnostic as well. If you shake a lot when trying to do these for less than a minute, it means your core muscles are poorly balanced. Side planks will tell you which side is weaker, since it will be the harder side. Check out these plank exercises we recommend for our patients here
Push-up exercises are great for strengthening the mid to lower trap muscles, while also strengthening the posterior shoulder muscles. Done regularly, they help improve posture and improve the way you stand. If you are traveling, walking and standing for long periods of time, push-ups can make your back more comfortable while standing and sightseeing, or while transporting luggage.
Superman exercises are another popular exercise to strengthen up the lower back muscles. They are easy to do as well. Lay on your stomach, extend the arms and legs into the air as if you are flying and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat up to 20 or 30 times. Done regularly, they will improve the tone of the lower back and upper shoulder muscles.
Hip extensions and lateral leg raises are terrific for strengthening the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus and the lateral and posterior leg muscles. They also engage the lower back muscles as well. We regularly recommend these exercises for all our patients who have back problems, and when done regularly, it improves muscle tone and strength in the lower back and hip region.
Lunges are terrific for stabilizing the lower core area. They are also diagnostic since a poorly functioning core will inappropriately load the legs and cause them to tighten. With practice, lunges will improve lower leg and core tone and improve your strength and flexibility, which is especially important when traveling, lifting luggage and touring.
Foam rolling is a great way to loosen up tight muscles after a day of touring or traveling on a plane. The Trigger Point Company Grid is a wonderful design that is travel friendly, will never warp and is easy to use.
Foam rolling is a way for you to loosen tightened fascia that may be responsible for stiffness after sitting or achiness after a day out traveling or sight seeing. The benefit is from the improved mobility that myofascial release provides.
It is important to note that foam rolling should be performed on both side and you should not try to dig into any one area. Since it is difficult to accurately understand which areas are tight and which areas require work, following our protocols can help you benefit from this technique while relieving stiffness and pain. You can watch our videos on foam rolling here.
Doing these travel friendly exercises on a regular basis before and during your travels can help you improve flexibility, strength and pelvic and core stability, essential for many of the trips you are likely to take this summer. They are especially helpful to families with young children who are likely lugging gear, additional luggage, baby carriages and of course, their young children. Happy traveling.