Traveling Tips for Orthopedic Health This Winter


Don’t let orthopedic pain stop you from enjoying the holiday vacation season. Instead, follow these tips so you can travel in comfort.

The wintertime traveling season is in full swing, and AAA forecasts 115.2 million people will venture 50 miles or more from home during the peak 10-day holiday season. That number represents a 2.2% increase from last year, and the second highest estimate since 2000. 

Visiting family and friends can be a joyous occasion, but for those struggling with orthopedic pain, traveling brings a number of challenges. Navigating crowded airports, standing in long lines, and sitting in cramped airplanes or cars can worsen knee, back, and shoulder pain. Yet with a bit of pre-planning and precautions, you can travel in comfort.

Seven tips to stay healthy and pain-free this holiday season

You don’t have to miss out on all the fun of the holiday season due to pain. Traveling will be a breeze if you follow these seven tips to reduce your orthopedic pain:

Bring along your medications. If you’ve been prescribed medication for your orthopedic condition, be sure to have them filled before you go so you don’t run out on the road. Take as directed to manage pain and stiffness. You can also ask your doctor about any special devices, such as knee braces or compression stockings, to help reduce pain and aid in walking. Bring along a lumbar support pillow or a neck pillow to make sitting in a cramped airplane seat more comfortable.

Move. Sitting and standing for long periods will only exacerbate your knee or back pain. Whenever possible, move about. Reserve an aisle set on a plane so you can get up and stroll freely every so often. When seated, do simple exercises such as toe touches or sliding your feet back and forth. If you need more leg room, consider upgrading to business or first class. Similarly during a long car ride, stop and walk about every two to three hours. Staying active during your trip will loosen stiff muscles and joints and lessen your pain.

Try hot/cold therapy. To unlock stiff muscles and boost circulation, try hot/cold therapy. Pack a heating pad or a breakable ice pack you can use at your destination. 

Hydrate. Dry airplane and car air can sap your body of moisture, and since our ligaments consist mostly of water, dehydration can lead to cramping and inflammation. When traveling, try to drink at least eight ounces of water each hour to stay hydrated and keep muscles limber. 

Pack lightly. Avoid the temptation to overpack. Carrying a heavy suitcase and then lifting it into an overhead bin on an airplane stresses back and shoulder muscles. Lighten your load by packing only what you need, or buy lightweight rolling luggage. Ask the flight attendant to help you lift your bag into the luggage compartment. If you must lift, hug the suitcase close to your body and lift with your legs as you keep your back straight.  

Be comfortable. Sightseeing involves a lot of walking from place to place, and of course, you don’t want to miss anything. To keep your joints stress-free, wear a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes and loose clothing.

Book a hotel with a gym. While on vacation, you may want to skip your workouts. But exercise keeps your muscles and joints flexible. When booking a hotel, look for one with a gym or pool so you can work out as you would normally.

Take a break. It’s easy to feel rushed during the holidays when trying to do everything and go everywhere. But that may overtax your muscles and joints. If you find yourself feeling achy and tired, take a break to stretch and relax. After all, you’re on vacation!

Visit the orthopedic specialists

If you over-strain yourself this holiday season, the orthopedists at New York Bone & Joint Specialists are here to help. We’ll devise a plan to reduce your pain and get you moving freely once again. Contact us today for a consultation.

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