4 Exercises to Perform While Traveling to Maintain Back Health

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4 Exercises to Perform While Traveling to Maintain Back Health Travel is more accessible than ever and if you go on any trip anywhere during peek times, vacations destinations are filled with tourists. While many locations we may visit can be a few hours away by car, statistically, more of us are flying and visiting different destinations worldwide according to Statistica. Sitting is one of the worst things we can do for long periods of time according to medical data, since long periods of sitting can result in a shorter lifespan.  Traveling as we are now doing it requires us to . Whether driving or flying, sitting in confined spaces affects our circulation, since movement of the lower extremities is important for moving blood back to the heart. The declining space we have in our airline seats cannot be good for us, since the ability to move is greatly impaired while we travel. Driving can give us some control over travel, since we can stop and get out of the car and take a walk or bathroom break.  True, you can do this in an airplane as well but it is much more limited as far as space to move and the ability to move during turbulence and feeding times. People with back pain are more likely to experience greater discomfort during a flight or a drive since the sitting position is often most likely to aggravate an existing back problem either as pain or as stiffness after sitting for an extended period of time. Moving luggage is another problem since it can be quite heavy and lifting it out of the trunk of a car, or onto the scale at the airport or even pulling it off of a luggage carousel can cause a back problem to worsen or in some cases, be created.       Here are four exercises you can do to improve the way your back works and feels while you are traveling. Bridging – a yoga bridge is very effective at improving tone in the gluteal and erector spinae musculature, while opening up the joints in the pelvis, lower and upper back region.  While it is not a substitute for a good chiropractor, it can relieve back pain or stiffness. The most common bridge we recommend is the standard bridge you see pictured here.   Lay on your back, place your feet flat on the floor, bed or table with your hands at your side and lift your pelvis upward.  Be sure to fully engage and tighten the gluteal muscles as well as the erector spinae muscles for maximal effect. Hip extensions, lateral leg raises. Hip extension exercises are an ideal way to strengthen the Gluteal muscles. Strong gluteal muscles will result in loser hamstrings and overall looser posterior leg muscles. A set of 30 will improve the way your back feels. Lateral leg lifts will help strengthen the tensor fascia lata and gluteus medius muscles. A set of 20-30 will loosen and tone the lower back and add stability.           [caption id="attachment_1358" align="alignleft" width="300"] Using foam rollers can improve the way your body works[/caption] Foam rolling - Foam rolling the tight fascia, the tissue that surrounds the organs and the muscles is a great way to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. The fascia acts like an exoskeleton and controls movement.  Fascia will tighten if we are built asymmetrically, or if we strain our bodies.   A foam roller can be invaluable to improve our flexibility, strength and comfort. The roller releases tight fascia that affects the way our bodies move and function.  The important idea when using a foam roller is to not try to self diagnose.  Use it generally and do not apply the pressure from the roller deeply, since the fascial restrictions you want to work on are on the surface. Follow our advice in this recent article regarding foam rolling and watch the videos.  We recommend the foam roller from Trigger Point Company because it is hollow inside, will never warp and is easy to pack in a suitcase. It is available through our offices. Check out our blog post and free foam rolling videos here.     Walking - Believe it or not, walking for miles on a trip is good for us and our bodies.   Sitting in a car or a plane for a long period of time impairs circulation in the extremities, which can be reversed while walking a lot on a vacation.  Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and sandals, and make sure they have the proper support as well.