As exciting as traveling can be, it can also be very hard on your body, particularly if you are sitting on a plane or in a car for a long period of time. This combined with sleeping in an unfamiliar bed and the general stress of switching up your routine can lead to uncomfortable back pain. However, if you are proactive with your travel routine, you can mitigate this back pain and travel more comfortably. One of the best ways to do this is through yoga. Yoga is not only a great way to exercise, but it also has amazing long-term health benefits. It’s something that anyone can do, and you can do it anywhere in the world. Here’s everything you need to know about doing yoga on the go.
Common Causes of Back Pain
There are many things that can cause chronic back pain while traveling, some of which we have already mentioned here. Additionally, if you already have health conditions that could lead to back pain, traveling can exacerbate it. Some of the most common causes of back pain include:
- Muscle imbalances or strains due to sitting or standing with poor posture for long periods of time. This is a major problem for frequent travelers or anyone that sits at a desk for work. In addition to yoga, you can use massage and supportive cushions to manage this type of back pain.
- Bulging discs. Many people experience bulging spinal discs as they get older, and they can also be causes by sitting for long periods of time, among other things. Bulging discs can cause very sharp, uncomfortable pain, so it’s important to do as much as you can to take care of them.
- Other spinal issues. Over time, the cartilage between bones can wear down, leading to uncomfortable back pain that can be exacerbated while traveling. Additionally, some people are born with spinal abnormalities that can also result in back pain during stressful situations, like traveling.
If you experience frequent chronic back pain, it’s important to see a doctor so you can get it diagnosed. Yoga is very helpful for back pain, but it needs to be combined with the appropriate treatment for your specific condition.
Benefits of Yoga Practice
There are so many benefits to doing yoga, and many of them relate directly to getting rid of back pain. Here are some of the most helpful benefits of doing yoga.
- Muscle strength: Yoga is a great way to tone your entire body and improve your muscle strength and tone. This is very helpful if you do experience frequent back pain, because improved strength in your back, core, and upper body will help you maintain good posture. Good posture is key to managing your back pain and preventing it from getting worse.
- Flexibility: Another common cause of back discomfort during travel is stiffness. Yoga can help you increase flexibility in your entire body, including your back, so you will have better range of motion.
- Injury prevention: Yoga is also excellent for preventing injuries. It’s great not only at strengthening your muscles, but also correcting muscle imbalances you may have developed over the years. We often develop muscle imbalances from repeating the same actions over and over, which can create weaknesses in opposing muscles. This can lead to injury if it isn’t corrected. Since yoga is a great full body workout, it can prevent these muscle imbalances from happening.
- Stress management: Finally, many people love yoga because it helps them manage stress in their lives. Stress is not only mentally challenging, but it can also manifest itself physically. If you are already experiencing chronic pain, stress can make these feelings worse. The relaxing, meditative aspect of yoga can help you de-stress and empty your mind, and get rid of your chronic pain in the process.
Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain
There are some yoga poses you can do that are particularly helpful for back pain. These include:Child’s pose
- Cat and cow
- Downward facing dog
- Upward facing dog
- Triangle pose
- Pigeon pose
- Supine twist
- Sphinx pose
- Standing forward bend
In addition to these poses, a general yoga flow is going to be very beneficial for your back, because it will warm you up, loosen your muscles, and help you build strength all over.
How to Do Yoga On The Go
One of the benefits of yoga is that you can do it anywhere as long as you have a flat surface and enough space for a mat. Doing yoga in beautiful outdoor locations can even be very spiritually satisfying. Here are some tips that make it easy to do yoga anywhere.
- Always carry a travel yoga mat and some comfy workout clothes. Travel yoga mats are a great investment, because you can fold them up to fit even in the smallest bag. When you have the right equipment with you, you will be much more motivated to do yoga.
- Download a yoga app for your phone. Apps are excellent because they are essentially your pocket guide if you need help with a yoga pose or are looking for a basic flow to do.
- Put a 10-minute yoga practice in your schedule for the day. When you have it on the books to do yoga, you won’t feel like you have to take time away from your traveling to fit it in. Even just a short yoga practice can be extremely beneficial.
- Do yoga with a friend. If you are traveling with a friend or family member, ask them if they want to do yoga with you. It’s much easier to stay motivated during a workout when you have a friend by your side.
- Use a portable yoga strap like the RockBand Flex. You can take this yoga strap with you anywhere you go, so that you can get the deep stretches of yoga without any special equipment. This yoga strap can easily fit in your handbag or suitcase, so it won’t take up space, either!
Adding yoga to your travel routine is one of the best ways to manage back pain. It’s also a great escape from the stresses of frequent travel. If you’ve never tried yoga before, it’s easy to get started. You can take a yoga class in person, or look up a beginner yoga class on YouTube. Of course, if you are struggling with back pain consistently, you can benefit from seeing a doctor, masseuse, or chiropractor, like Better Health Chiropractic in Juneau.
Written By: Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C., is a chiropractor at Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, which he founded in 1998. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and he holds degrees from Western States Chiropractic College and the University of Nevada. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family, reading, hiking, and volunteering for the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation.
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