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Tips for Enjoying Summer Travel Without Pain & Soreness

reducing pain during summer travelTraveling can be rough on the body.  Long hours in the car or an airplane can leave you stressed, tired, stiff and sore.  Prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your body. Even if you travel in the most comfortable car or opt to fly first class, certain pressures and forces from awkward positions can result in restricted blood flow.  One of the biggest insults to your system from prolonged sitting is the buildup of pressure in the blood vessels on your lower legs. Contracting and relaxing the muscles helps the blood flow properly. Warm-up and cool down.  Treat travel as an athletic event.  Warm-up before settling into a car or plane, and cool down once you reach your destination.  Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.


  • Adjust the seat so you are as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible.  Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips. Place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closest to your knee.  If you cannot easily slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat.
  • Consider a back support.  Using a support behind your back may reduce the risk of low back strain, pain, or injury.  The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
  • Exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue or discomfort.  Open your toes as wide as you can, and count to 10. Count to 2 while you tighten your calf muscles, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal muscles.  Roll your shoulders forward and back, making sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
  • Take rest breaks.  Never underestimate the potential consequences of fatigue to yourself, your passengers and other drivers.


  • Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine.  Then use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain that curve when you sit in your seat.  Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the beltline and lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest.  If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks a little.
  • Check all bags heavier than 5-10 percent of your body weight.  Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck.  While lifting your bags, stand right in front of the overhead compartment so the spine is not rotated. Do not lift your bags over your head or turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
  • While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps.  Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.


If you follow these simple tips, you can enjoy pain-free, safe travel.  If you do experience pain and stress on your back, Doctors of Chiropractic are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat problems of the spine and nervous system.

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