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Author - Anastasia Belikov, PT, Cert. MDT
Graduated with her DPT in 2017

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Traveling Ergonomics


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Traveling can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it often involves long hours spent sitting in planes, cars, or trains. These extended periods of immobility can take a toll on your body, leading to discomfort, muscle stiffness, and even pain. To ensure a comfortable and pain-free journey, it's essential to prioritize good ergonomics. Here are some tips to help you travel with good ergonomics:

1. Choose the Right Travel Accessories:

Selecting the right travel accessories can make a significant difference in your comfort during the journey. Invest in ergonomic travel pillows, lumbar cushions, or seat cushions to provide support to your neck, lower back, and buttocks. These accessories can help maintain a neutral and healthy spinal posture.

2. Pack Light and Smart:

Overpacking can lead to carrying heavy bags and straining your body. When packing for your trip, consider the ergonomics of your luggage. Opt for bags with ergonomic designs, like padded shoulder straps and multiple carrying options, to distribute the weight evenly. A suitcase with wheels can also help reduce the physical strain of lugging heavy luggage.

3. Mind Your Posture:

Sitting for extended periods can be hard on your body. Focus on maintaining good posture, whether you're on a plane, in a car, or waiting at the airport. Sit back in your seat with your back against the rest and your feet flat on the floor. If your feet don't reach the floor, use a footrest or your bag to support them.

4. Take Breaks and Stretch:

Prolonged sitting can cause stiffness and discomfort. Make it a habit to stand up, walk around, and stretch your muscles at regular intervals. Simple stretches like reaching your arms overhead, rotating your ankles, and doing seated leg lifts can help alleviate tension and improve circulation.

5. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well:

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for your overall well-being during your journey. Dehydration can make your muscles tense and increase the risk of cramps. Carry a reusable water bottle and take regular sips. Also, choose light, balanced meals to avoid digestive discomfort.

6. Use Travel-Friendly Ergonomic Tools:

If you're a frequent traveler, consider investing in portable ergonomic tools, such as a portable laptop stand, compact keyboard, or ergonomic mouse. These can help you maintain a more comfortable working or browsing position, especially on long flights or layovers.

7. Sleep Smartly:

Sleeping while traveling can be challenging, but quality rest is essential for your well-being. Use a travel pillow to support your head and neck, and consider noise-canceling headphones or an eye mask to create a more conducive sleeping environment.

8. Plan for Comfortable Seating:

If you're flying or taking a long train journey, research and book your seat in advance. Choose seats with extra legroom or ergonomic features, if possible. Some airlines offer seats with adjustable lumbar support and headrests.

9. Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to your body's signals. If you start feeling discomfort or pain, address it promptly. Adjust your posture, do some gentle stretches, or use ergonomic accessories to alleviate the discomfort.

10. Pre- and Post-Travel Self-Care:

Before and after your journey, consider scheduling a massage, physical therapy consult, or yoga session to help relax your body, and address any issues.

Traveling can be a lot more enjoyable and pain-free when you prioritize good ergonomics. By following these tips, you can reduce the physical stress associated with travel and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to explore. Remember that taking care of your body while traveling is an investment in your overall well-being.

Traveling Ergonomics
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