Spine Care Tips for Travel

As many people are travelling over this festive season, I thought I would go over some quick tips that may come in handy when travelling (and if you are not going away,  you can use Tip 2 & 3 – and enjoy the peace and quiet of Johannesburg in December!)

People lifting suitcases

Tip #1: Be Nice to Your Spine when Lifting Heavy Suitcases

 

– Be as close as possible to the object you’re lifting, i.e. don’t be reaching to lift heavy things (this creates a longer lever arm and increases the mechanical impact on the spine)
– Have the object in front of you and not off to the side so that you don’t have to twist and lift at the same time
– Keep your spine in it’s neutral position, i.e. with it’s natural curves so that you are not rounding or arching the back while adding load
– Lift with your hips using a “hip-hinge” motion where your hips are moving back and forward without changing the shape of your spine

Hip Hinge Lift

Tip #2: Take Regular Breaks from Sitting

– If you are sitting in a car, do your best to take regular breaks to get out and walk around. If the people you are driving with get annoyed with this, you can give them my number – I’ll be on a farm with no reception 😉 & if you are sitting on a plane (or on a couch), get up and walk around as often as possible – not only is this vital for circulation, it is also better for your spine!
– When you get out of the car or off your plane/couch seat, stand and reach your arms up and imagine you’re pressing your hands up towards the sky and arch your back very slightly. Take deep breaths and imagine lengthening up towards your hands. This movement helps to decompress the spine after the compression of sitting (see below – outfit optional)

Tip #3: 

Frequent, Fast Walking! I know I’ve gone into detail about walking in a previous newsletter, but now that you are out of the office, hopefully you’ll be able to do more of it!
– More frequent, short walks (ideally for around 10 minutes 3 x per day)
– Fast but relaxed (in between power walking and the slow saunter we often do in malls)
– Slight bracing of the abdominal area (think of simply stiffening your abdomen slightly)
– Let your arms and hips swing while your spine stays stable
– If you are doing these walks on the beach, experiment with walking on harder or softer parts of the sand and find what feels best for your spine as this will vary widely
Walking

In summary: Please Take Care of Your Spine (and Yourself!) this Festive Season

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