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Tips from a Rehabilitation Clinic on How to Travel with a Back Pain

Tips from a Rehabilitation Clinic on How to Travel with a Back Pain

It is a sad fact that many patients, regardless of whether they suffer from chronic back pain or not, return from a vacation needing the services of a Physiotherapist.

While travelling from one destination to another is more convenient than ever before, it certainly isn’t more comfortable.  Airline engineers design planes for maximum load capacity and safety, not maximum comfort.  This means tight seats and minimal leg room.  Also airports have become mini-cities with kilometres of terminals, concourses, trams and walkways.  Often you are required to walk at a brisk pace from one end of the airport to the other with bags in tow.  These conditions create the perfect backdrop for aggravating an already weak spine or creating spinal strain.  If a Physiotherapist designed the seats, they would certainly have improved head and lumbar support as well as room to stretch your legs.

Your CanadaPhysio Physiotherapist recommends that you try these travel tips so you won’t need the services of a Physiotherapist or a Rehabilitation Clinic after the vacation!

1. Carrying your bag down the stairs and lifting it into the trunk.

Some patients injure themselves even before they leave the house by trying to carry a large suitcase down the stairs.  Even when using proper body bending and lifting mechanics, for many people, lifting a 50 lb bag can cause considerable back strain.  Solutions can be creative; pack your suitcase on the lower level of the house so that you don’t have to hoist the bag down a staircase or drag your suitcase down the stairs using a towel or blanket to slide the case instead of carrying it.  Bend deep in the knees and keep your back straight when lifting your suitcase into and out of the trunk. Invest in luggage that is lightweight and equipped with adjustable carry handles and all way drive wheels that allow you to tilt, roll and push with minimal effort.

2. Be smart about your carry-on luggage.

Don’t carry bulky awkward bags.  Everyone has a different tolerance for back packs, shoulder bags and cross body totes.  Avoid bags that put pressure on you neck, shoulders and lower back.  Ideally, the carry-on bag should evenly distribute weight so that your body need not compensate by twisting and bending.

3. Proper sitting position on the plane.

Most seats don’t allow for comfortable reclining which means you may be in an uncomfortable upright position for an extended period of time.  Avoid leaning to the side so that your neck is not in alignment with the rest of your body.  It is equally ill advised to allow your neck to fall forward or tilt backward while you sleep.  Ideally, a neck pillow will keep your neck in proper alignment and your shoulder should be supported by a pillow or rolled up sweater to avoid similar strain in your upper and lower back.

4. Move around and stretch while on the plane.

Even in crowded cramped airplanes, it is recommended that you get up and move around for a minute or two every couple of hours.  This will assist the circulation and stretch your muscles.  Even if you are unable to leave your seat, it is advised to frequently move your feet around in circles and point your toes up and down to minimize cramping and encourage blood flow.

If you feel that you have injured or strained yourself while travelling, visit any one of our many locations to serve your needs across Ontario, in Toronto, Scarborough, Whitby, Mississauga and London. Our rehabilitation clinics specially trained staff of Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Exercise therapists or registered massage therapists will work out your travel aches and pains to get you back on track. Additionally, we can recommend travel aids that will help you maintain proper body mechanics when bending, lifting, sitting and sleeping on planes, trains and automobiles!


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