Find out how to prevent back pain while travelling

When you suffer from back pain the thought of a long trip by car or plane can be frightening. These seats can become very uncomfortable and to be sitting still for a long time can be a very painful experience. The following tips will help support your spine and help relieve or prevent back pain while travelling on holidays.

Travelling by car:

  • Every 1 – 2 hours make sure you take regular stretch breaks, get out of the car walk around and stretch.
  • While you are travelling regularly roll your shoulders back every hour to loosen tight muscles and stretch your neck gently around in all directions.
  • Back supports are helpful for long travel. A small rolled up towel can be used as a lumbar support. Place in the small of your back to help support the lower back.
  • Do not slouch, sit upright with your head back. Adjusting the position of your mirrors before your journey will be a reminder for you not to slouch.
  • Sip water often and stay well hydrated.
  • Place your seat in the upright position & ensure your tailbone is as far back in the seat as it can be. Keep your shoulders and head as supported as possible by the seat.

Travelling by Plane:

  • Try to get an aisle seat to make it easier to regularly stretch and walk during the flight.
  • Support your spine with a rolled up garment or small cushion to maintain the natural shape of the spine.
  • Be careful lifting your suitcases and remember to bend your knees, not with your back.
  • Your ankles need to be regularly rolled in circles, point your toes and flex your feet.
  • Always stretch after sleeping then again every 1 – 2 hours.
  • Keep well hydrated by sipping water regularly.
  • Place a supportive pillow inside your luggage or take an inflatable travel pillow.
  • Set your watch to the time zone of your destination before take-off, then eat, drink and sleep in alignment with this time during the flight to adjust to it.


Tips and exercises to help relieve or prevent back pain or neck pain while on holidays:

Here are some easy things for you to try to help relieve or prevent back pain or neck during your holiday.

Trapezius muscle stretch

  • Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor, back straight and shoulders
  • To stabilise your stretch use one hand to either hold onto the side of the chair or place it under your buttock
  • Tilt your head away from the stabilising arm
  • Bring your ear towards your shoulder until you feel a stretch
  • To intensify the stretch place your other hand on your head and gently use it to increase the stretch
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • Repeat each side twice

Mid back extension

  • Lie on the floor
  • Roll up a towel and place it along your spine to the base of your neck let your arms rest out on each side and head rest back.
  • Hold for the time recommended by your chiropractor
  • Rest your arms out to the side
  • Stretch for 10 minutes or as long as comfortable

Generally rolling a towel at the short edge is best but if it is uncomfortable try it with a few different thicknesses until you find one that is comfortable and provides a stretch through your chest

Knee to chest

  • Lie on the floor
  • Knees bent, feet on the floor and low back relaxed
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles
  • Bring both knees toward your chest holding on behind or on top of your knees
  • Keep your back against the floor
  • You may feel a stretch through your low back or buttock
  • Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times
  • If this feels comfortable you can add rotation by dropping your knees side to side

Go for a gentle walk outside

Fresh air and gentle exercise can do wonders for a mild headache especially if it’s caused or aggravated by spending too much time working or on a computer. Exercise is also great for stress which is one of the main causes of tension headaches. Get outside and go for a half hour walk, take deep breaths all the way into your stomach. Allow your shoulders a neck to relax while you’re walking, even try stopping to do some gentle stretches during your walk.