Travel Can Be a Pain in the Neck: Pack for Relief
For those planning to travel – whether by car, train, or plane – neck pain is almost inevitable. Neck pain is caused primarily by stress, heavy lifting, poor sleep habits, or standing/sitting for prolonged periods in an unnatural position – all probably to experience during an average trip. While standing in line, sitting for hours, or heaving luggage may be virtually unavoidable for most travelers, there are many viable strategies that can keep neck pain away.
Pack these five pain killers to eradicate neck discomfort or injury.
Part of relaxed, pain-free travel is savvy packing. To prevent and combat neck pain while traveling over the holidays, travelers should consider the following tips for packing:
Always travel with a neck cushion. Neck cushions or neck pillows are often horseshoe shaped and come in various fabrics and hypoallergenic varieties to suit all needs and preferences. The purpose of a quality neck support while traveling is to help assist with appropriate seated neck positioning, especially in the event of falling asleep in the car or plane.
Try a heat wrap or icepack. Whether on wheels or in the air, a heat wrap or patch is a great way to retain neck mobility and keep swelling or stiffening under control. Ice can also soothe an aching neck or prevent strain. Ask your flight attendant for some ice or grab some from your car’s cooler – just be sure to wrap the ice in a cloth to avoid irritation.
Travel light. Carry only what you will need, especially in a carry-on or bag you will lift manually. Also, opt for a backpack or bag on wheels as opposed to a one-shoulder option or switch sides to keep weight distributed. Heavy lifting, especially from the shoulders, accounts for over half of all neck injuries.
Tote light, non-habit-forming pain medication and unscented muscle cream. An anti-inflammatory pain medication and a muscle rub that won’t bother fellow passengers are two great helpers to have if neck pain strikes.
Secure or carry along an orthopedic pillow for sleeping. Sleeping with your neck sitting awkwardly or with a lack of support can cause severe pain and even a misalignment in the cervical spine. Avoid this with proper support from an orthopedic pillow. Some hotels will offer supportive pillows, so call ahead or bring your own to be sure.
Travel mindfully to maintain a natural, pain-free neck alignment.
In addition to preparatory packing, behaviors during travel can make or break a pain-free trip. Being sure to stretch and take breaks from sitting (or standing in line) can ease the tension that builds from sustaining one position for a long period. Supporting your tablet, mobile device, or book while reading can also ensure that you are not holding undue tension in your neck and shoulders. In general, mindful posture will make a significant difference in your neck’s ability to withstand a stressful trip.
Don’t let the stress, prolonged sitting, poor sleep, or heavy cargo of your travels become a pain in your neck! Travel mindfully and pack with pain preparation in mind to enjoy your trip. Your Freehold chiropractic team will be waiting, when you return, to fix any kinks you might have amassed on your journeys, too!