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Tips for Managing Neck Pain on Your Summer Vacation

May 14, 2021 | Becki Andrus

Summer is here! As the weather is warming up and kids are out of school, many families have big plans to travel and enjoy fun activities this season. Are you ready to create memories with your loved ones?

If you suffer from chronic pain, you are likely feeling a juxtaposition of things: the desire to spend time enjoying these activities with your family and a concern about how you will manage the pain while on the road.

Whether you are planning a long road trip or hopping on a 10-hour flight, neck pain can make it unbearable. Additionally, many people find that chronic pain interferes with the activities they want to participate in each day. As a result, you have to limit your participation in some of the best activities, such as roller coasters, ATV rides, ziplining, and more.

How Your Spine is Affected by Travel Activities

Do you notice that your body feels achy and uncomfortable at the end of a long flight or road trip? This is because when you are sitting in cramped quarters for extended periods of time, it can take a toll on all parts of the body.

Additionally, many airplanes, trains, and car seats are comfortable for short rides, but they don’t offer the ergonomics you need to reduce the risk of chronic pain. Eventually, your body starts to slouch, and this poor posture causes muscles to cramp and pain to develop. As a result, some people notice pain in their lower back, while others experience more pain in their neck and shoulders.

The other way your neck is affected by travel is if you are participating in activities that cause jarring motions. When the head moves quickly and forcefully, it puts undue pressure on the neck – potentially causing minor injuries. These small issues add up over time, causing chronic pain that can be hard to manage.

Understanding how your body is affected by travel is the first step to preventing pain. Pay attention to how you feel so you can proactively reduce common triggers that contribute to your neck pain.

How to Prevent Neck Pain When Traveling

What are your strategies for caring for your spine when you are on the road? Here are a few of the most effective tips you can follow to minimize the neck pain you feel on your vacation:

  1. Choose a Good Pillow: Is it common for you to sleep on the plane or in the car? Ensure you have a supportive pillow to keep your head in the proper position while sleeping. A good pillow reduces the risk of slumping. At the same time, you support the weight of your head to ease the strain on the neck. You can find inflatable U-shaped neck pillows that easily fit in your carry-on bag.
  2. Get Up from Your Seat: Be proactive about taking breaks, so your body isn’t staying in the same position for too long. If you are flying, you might consider requesting an aisle seat so you can stand up and walk around as needed. In the car, stop at gas stations and parks occasionally when you need a break. Stretch if you can to loosen the muscles. Even 5 or 10 minutes of stretching can go a long way to help you reduce the tension and alleviate pain.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential to keep your body hydrated throughout the journey. The last thing you want to do is drink a lot of water on a long trip. Some people are worried about frequent bathroom breaks. But, it’s worth the need to visit the bathroom a few extra times. Water is critical to keep your muscles healthy. Hydration reduces pain, cramping, and muscle fatigue.
  4. Healthy Sleep Hygiene: Also, consider how your sleep is affecting your neck and back pain. Too often, travel means uncomfortable sleeping conditions and short nights. Whenever possible, make sure you have a good bed during your trip. Even though sleeping on the couch is an affordable way to travel, it’s not worth the cost-savings if it causes more pain during your vacation.
  5. Upgrade Your Seat: If you have extra room in the budget, consider upgrading your seat on the airplane. Opting for a roomy seat in the airplane’s comfort plus or business class areas can be an excellent investment on a long flight. The extra room allows you to stretch your legs or even lay flat during the journey. Also, when you know that chronic pain is an issue while traveling, it might be worth the extra money to ensure your comfort when arriving at your destination.
  6. Pack Light: Lifting and carrying heavy suitcases can strain the spine and lead to pain issues. It’s common for travelers to experience back and neck pain on their vacations because of improper lifting techniques when carrying their luggage. Pack light and divide your belongings into smaller bags to avoid too much weight in one suitcase. Also, use caution when reaching your arms above your head to access the overhead storage bins.
  7. Focus on Fitness: This final tip is something you can do to prepare for an upcoming trip. Regular exercise and stretching right now can help your body get ready for the forthcoming activities. Strengthen your spine and core while also making sure that you are flexible and fit. These small strategies can have a significant impact on minimizing chronic pain on your future vacations.

Solutions for Chronic Pain

It’s challenging to live with chronic pain, especially when you feel like these issues affect every area of your life. If you are tired of neck pain, then our team is here to help you find the personalized solutions you need. We offer a customized, proactive approach to get to the root cause of your chronic pain. Not only do we find the answers to alleviate current pain, but our goal is to help you enjoy a healthy, thriving life in the years to come.

For more information about available services, we invite you to contact our team at Texas Partners Healthcare Group to schedule a consultation.