Kids and travel: these two things seem to be at odds with each other. The crying, the fussing, the “I’m bored” and the whining all combine with the joy of air travel to do a number on your mood — and your back. Kids require a lot of stuff, especially when they’re younger and you have to schlep around toys, dolls, comfort items, diapers and snacks. If you tend to suffer from back pain — like eight out of 10 people in this country, according to MedlinePlus — traveling can pose additional challenges.
Getting on the Plane
Lugging kids and bags onto an airplane can put above average strain on your back. If you can, take some over the counter pain medication in anticipation of a brutal plane ride. Be careful when lifting your carry-on baggage into the overhead compartment, so as not to injure your neck, shoulders or back. Spine-Health suggests doing this in stages rather than in one sweeping motion. Haul it gently from the floor to the seat, then to the bin.
According to Laser Health Spa, a company that can help you find alternatives to spine surgery, settling in to your seats offers you a chance to get as comfortable as possible, assuming of course that you’ve situated your kids with snacks, games and toys. Ask for a pillow and use it if they have it. An alternative is to roll up a jacket or towel and place it behind your lower back for added support. You may be tempted to sit with your legs crossed to avoid this because you’re cutting off circulation. Instead, keep knees and hips at right angles.
When traveling with kids, you know you’ll probably be making at least a few trips to the bathroom or up and down the aisle to break up boredom. This is actually a good thing, as it gets you up and moving. Take this time to stretch your back, legs and neck, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. If you’ve got an aisle seat, you can get up and down whenever you want without bothering fellow passengers.
Drink Plenty of H2O
It’s quite easy to fall victim to dehydration while on a plane due to the cabin’s low humidity levels. Make sure the kids are properly hydrated, but don’t forget about yourself. You may be tempted to get a cocktail, a cup of coffee or some tea but it’s best to go with water. Those other beverages will dehydrate you and can do a number on your muscles. Proper circulation starts with water and is helped through good circulation.
Bring the proper support with you when traveling with kids. For little ones, this may mean packing baby carriers and lightweight strollers that won’t put unnecessary stress your back. Leave extra non-essential toys and supplies behind. There’s no need to carry around extra weight on your shoulders when you don’t have to. Remember: you don’t just have to worry about getting on and off the plane, but you’ll also be in long security lines, luggage pick-up and customs. If you’re like 88 percent of people in America, you suffer from back and neck pain after a long plane ride, according to Spine Universe. Let older kids carry their fair share so you don’t get overloaded. Take care of your back when traveling and you will enjoy your vacation sans back pain.
And when you come home, make sure you do some stretching to work out any kinks in your back. Doing yoga or Pilates exercises is also a great way to stretch and strengthen your core muscles which can help reduce pain from the strain of travel. Taking these steps will ensure that the next time you fly with kids, it won’t be so hard on your back! Happy travels!