April 23 , 2010


COLUMBIA, Tenn.— No matter how you travel during the upcoming warmer months, being on the go can take its toll on one’s physical and mental health. During Occupational Therapy Month, Lewis Health Center (LHC) offers tips on proper body mechanics for travelers.

“Traveling can be quite uncomfortable for some people. The thought of being in cramped seating in cars or planes for long periods of time can and the possible exhaustion of it all can become roadblocks to traveling, especially to those with chronic pain,” says Heather Norris, physical therapy department manager at LHC. “However, just because you need to manage pain doesn’t mean you can’t travel for pleasure, business or to see family and friends.”

Norris offers several tips to travelers:

  • Think through your transportation. Try to book a direct flight to your destination and avoid the stress of changing planes and long walks through huge airports. When driving, make sure your vehicle has features like a tilting steering wheel and adjustable seats that can help you keep a comfortable posture.
  • Make a list of what you’ll need on the trip. Besides your medications, include comfort items you may need such as a neck pillow, heating pad, cold pack or blanket.
  • Lift luggage correctly. Whether loading bags in and out of the car or on and off the baggage carousel, be sure to lift with your legs. Carry weight close to your body and distribute weight evenly.
  • Take stretch breaks. Sitting in a car or airplane for a length of time can cause fatigue, backaches and neck and shoulder stiffness. When traveling, give yourself a few minutes each hour to stand up, stretch and walk around.
  • Request special assistance. If you need special assistance when traveling, ask airline officials or friends traveling with you to assist with special accommodations you may need such as a wheelchair, stroller or other mobility device.