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The fall and winter months are often a time to pack up your suitcase and hit the road for holiday gatherings and vacation destinations.  While your thoughts may be on getting from point A to point B, it is important to keep in mind a few key tips on making it through your journey without any aches or pains!

    1. Travel lightly
    2. Walk or stretch often
    3. Stay hydrated

To see all the tips, see the full article below.

Before you go, try to pack wisely.  It is no fun having to lug heavy suitcases in and out of a car or through an airport terminal during transit to and from your destination.

Here are a few packing tips to keep in mind to help you travel light:

  • Decide what you will wear in advance, and pack only those items.
  • Consider packing less and making use of laundry facilities during your stay.
  • Check the weather before your trip to avoid packing “just-in-case” clothes.
  • Consider wearing your heaviest clothing/footwear items rather than packing them in your suitcase.
  • Avoid selecting suitcases made of heavy material such as leather. This only adds extra weight. Instead, select a suitcase made of lighter, durable material such as vinyl and canvas.
  • Wheels on suitcases are helpful on smooth terrain, but you must still be able to carry your bag up and down stairs and possibly over rough surfaces.
  • Two smaller bags may be easier to manage than one larger bag, although airline checked baggage rules might make this cost more.
  • Lighten up toiletries; travel and sample-sized items are a good trick, as is transferring the amount needed into a small container.
  • Dual duty products such as moisturizer plus sunscreen eliminate an entire bottle.
  • If you can, check your luggage when travelling by air.  This eliminates carrying bags during layovers and reaching to load and unload overhead storage bins onboard.

Whatever your mode(s) of transportation, odds are you will be sitting for prolonged periods of time during your journey.  Whether you are travelling by car or air you can take steps to reduce your exposure to prolonged sitting.

Be sure to stop and get out of the car, or get up and move around the airplane compartment, at least every hour or two. Research from the University of Waterloo (Callaghan J.P. & McGill S.M., 2001) suggests that for those of us who do not have a supported seated posture, standing when used alternatively as a rest from sitting, may aid in injury reduction.

Because of the change in posture, standing can alter the loading patterns of the passive and active tissues in the lumbar spine, to reduce the risk of overloading any one tissue. Sitting requires the muscles to hold the trunk, neck and shoulders in a fixed position. A fixed position squeezes the blood vessels in the muscles, reducing the blood supply to the working muscles just when they need it the most. An insufficient blood supply accelerates fatigue and makes the muscles prone to injury. (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2010).

Getting up and walking about for a few minutes once an hour may also help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, which are blood clots that can form in the deep veins of your legs during times of prolonged sitting. If you must stay seated for a prolonged time (for example when flying in turbulent conditions), flex your ankles or move your feet around as much as you can.

Some other tips to keep in mind while travelling include avoid wearing tight clothing around your waist and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, (Rooke, T., 2008).  Adjusting the lumbar support in your vehicle or placing a small pillow or rolled up blanket in the lumbar region of your back can also assist in reducing the potential for back discomfort and strain.

Try out some of these tips to help you pack light for your travels and avoid prolonged periods of sitting to set yourself up for a successful holiday getaway!

 

References
American Occupational Therapy Associations, Inc. (2004-2008), http://www.promoteot.org/AI_BackpackStrategies.html
Callaghan J.P. & McGill S.M. (2001). Low back joint loading and kinematics during standing and unsupported sitting. Ergonomics, Vol. 44, pp.280-294
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (1998 – 2010).  Working in a Sitting Position Overview. Retrieved from http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/sitting/sitting_overview.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1997). Chapter 6. Low-Back Musculoskeletal Disorders: Evidence for Work-Relatedness, Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-141. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-141/ergotxt6.html#static
Mayo Clinic Staff (2011).  Deep Vein Thrombosis. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/deep-vein-thrombosis/DS01005.
Nichols, B., Nova, P. & Jacobs, K. Ergonomic Strategies for Using a Suitcase.  Retrieved from http://www.aota.org/DocumentVault/Backpack/44397.aspx on October 11, 2011.
Thom Rooke, (2008). Prolonged sitting during long flights or car trips.  Medical Edge Newspaper Column.  Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-edge-newspaper-2008/june-20b.html
United States Naval Academy (no date). Ergonomic Travel Tips.  Retrieved from http://www.usna.edu/SafetyOffice/ergonomic_travel_tips.php.

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