Travelling doesn’t need to be a “Pain in the Back…”

By Dr. Brittany Ortynski


Have you ever felt stiff after a long flight? Had a headache from sitting on long bus ride? Back felt “out” or “off”? Tension in your shoulders and neck? Well, you’re not the only one! This pain can occur whether you’re a frequent traveller for work or going on vacation once a year. If you find yourself cramped up on an airplane for as short as 1 hour or up to those dreaded 10+ hour flights—not to mention 25-hour travel days in a car, bus, train, or even riding on a camel—you are confined to a rigid position for longer than your spine would like you to be.


Physical Stress

All of the above adds physical stress on your body. When you are travelling, the seat is not built for your needs. It provides little to no back support. The close confines force you to either lean away from the stranger next to you or lean up against the window. The upright position makes you to find a more comfortable position by either slouching down or hunching forward.

If you didn’t know, your lower back, naturally has an extended “lordotic” or inward curve. This natural curve is opposite of how your back looks when you are slouching into your chair, which then results in extra stress on ligaments, muscles, and the discs in your back. To help yourself manage these stressors, pad your lower back with a small airplane pillow, a folded sweater, or rolled towel; this will help support that curve in your lower back when possible. If you have the option, recline your chair a little to decrease the likelihood of hunching forward.


Mental Stress 

Long layovers. Delayed flights. Long travel days. Lost luggage. Screaming children. These are all factors that can add stress and make travelling a nightmare. Although chiropractic can’t directly help any of these issues, adjustments do indirectly impact your autonomic nervous system and increase your body’s parasympathetic response. We work to assist, encourage, and support your body to function better.

Naturally, your adrenaline (or “fight or flight”) would kick in to respond to a stressful situation. Chiropractic provides suggestions and breathing techniques or stretches that may be suitable for you. We can help your body get back to a restful, relaxed state.



Now, what about your heavy luggage? Don’t worry—we’ve got your back! Keep these points in mind when trying to lift that big suitcase on or off the conveyor belt or shove that carry on in the overhead storage department:

  • Use your entire body—specifically your big, strong muscles such as your glutes and legs—to do the heavy lifting. Don’t let your back do all the work.
  • Bend and hinge at your hips and knees (natural areas that bend) rather than your back.
  • Keep the heavy load close to your body to use your centre of gravity.
  • Pack less—this may also help!


Stress Less

Who doesn’t want to come home, have a great night’s sleep, and get back that mobility needed to continue with your everyday busy schedule as good as, if not better than, before?

So what can you do for your body?

Getting an adjustment before and after travel can make a big difference in keeping your body aligned and preparing yourself for your journey. Once you’ve returned home, get another adjustment to rid yourself of that nagging headache, decrease joint stress, and reduce muscle tension.

Travel with health and wellness in mind.


For more tips or questions about ways to help you travel better, visit me, Dr. Brittany Ortynski ,DC, in Ellerslie, Edmonton, at both Watson Family Chiropractic and Purity Health and Wellness, or email me at