Whether by car, plane, train, or on foot (she types, looking at her backpacking gear), traveling often involves a lot of hip flexion (found in both sitting and hiking), carrying heavier items than usual, and often that last-minute flurry of added stress. When it comes to my own body, putting these all together sets the stage for old injuries in my lower back and shoulder to flare up.
Back spasms and the like can wreck your plans, so here’s some advice from this biomechanist/someone who has had to deal with this issue a few times myself: prioritize multiple short (3-5 minute) exercise sessions every day a week or two beforehand, do a few exercises en route, and again as soon as you arrive at your destination. Think of these moves as travel insurance that’s free, but you still need to get going on ahead of time.
Every time I’ve had a low-back problem on the road, it was because I jumped right into a bend and twist activity (moving luggage, picking up a kid, once it was dragging a vacuum) without being mindful of the mechanical situation my body had just been through the last few hours. The body needs a transition zone—just a little time to remind it of all the other positions it might have forgotten it could assume after repeating a single shape or pattern for an extended period of time.
I just loaded up a one-hour exercise class to our virtual studio, “Low Back Care For Travel” but we also created a shorter, 20-minute version for everyone to follow below. This series of gentle pelvis, hip, and lower back movement is how I like to get rid of some of that “getting there” baggage before really starting my time away.
The great thing about learning the movements your body needs is the knowledge of how to do them is yours to keep forever. And you can pack them with you wherever you go—they don’t weigh a thing!
Do you do a lot of traveling and want more ideas of how to keep moving as you do? Here are more articles to read:
Road Trip Bootcamp
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