Posted on July 30, 2014

This is a popular time of year for people to go on vacation and spend long hours travelling.   Several of my patients have asked me how to avoid exacerbating their various aches and pains while flying or driving.  By following these guidelines it could mean the difference between arriving at your destination with a smile on your face, or arriving with a desperate look of “where’s my bed!”

Alicia Hirscht, DPT, SCS, CSCS, Senior Clinical Specialist
Alicia Hirscht, DPT, SCS, CSCS, Senior Clinical Specialist
  1. KEEP MOVING! Our bodies are built to move, we are not built to stay in one position for long periods of time, even if it is sitting. Whether in a car or on a plane, try performing these exercises:
    1. Ankle pumps: Move your feet up and down in a pumping motion, repeat 30 times every half hour. This gets the circulation going in your legs and can minimize edema associated with travelling.
    2. Glute sets: Sit up tall and squeeze your buttocks muscles together, repeat 30 times every half hour. This helps take the pressure off your tail bone from sitting too long.
    3. Shoulder blade pinches: Sit up straight and squeeze your shoulder blades together, repeat 30 times every half hour. This gets you out of the slumped posture associated with driving or reading on a plane.
    4. Chin tucks: Sit up tall and look straight ahead. Pull your chin in towards your spine, giving yourself a “double” chin, 10 times every half hour. This resets your spine and stretches the muscles at the back of your skull.
  1. Maintain proper sitting position with lumbar support. A lumbar roll, like
    McKenzie Super Roll™
    McKenzie SuperRoll™

    McKenzie SuperRoll™, is convenient to place in your carry-on, and can be used both in a car and on a plane. Place it at your back, opposite your navel, supporting the natural curve in your spine. If you are in a car, look at the position of your seat: try to sit up tall, with your hips all the way back in the seat. Make sure your seat tilt is adjusted so that your hips are NOT lower than your knees.

  1.  Stand and Extend.  In order to restore your body’s balance and calibrate your spine, stand up and extend your back (put your hands on your waist and lean back).  Perform 5 back extensions each time you stop for gas, or when getting up to use the restroom.

Remember, keep moving. Hopefully, with these tips, you will start your vacation feeling healthy and pain free. Safe travels!

Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists PC (ONS) is an advanced multi-specialty orthopedic and neurosurgery practice in Greenwich, CT. ONS physicians provide expertise in sports medicine, minimally invasive orthopaedic, spine and brain surgery, joint replacement and trauma. For more information, please visit