Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vacation Travel Tips

Traveling can be rough on the body. "Prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your body." says Dr. Scott Bautch, past president of the ACA's Council on Occupational Health. "Even if you travel in the most comfortable car or opt to fly first class, certain pressures and forces from awkward positions can result in restricted blood flow. One of the biggest insults to your system from prolonged sitting is the buildup of pressure in the blood vessels in your lower legs. Contracting and relaxing the muscles help the blood flow properly."

Warm Up, Cool Down--- Treat travel as an athletic event. Warm up before settling into a car or plane, and cool down once you reach your destination. Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles. 

In an Airplane- Check all bags heavier than 5 to 10% of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce risk of pain in lower back or neck. 

* When stowing belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet, or arms. This may cause muscle strains or spasm in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat first, using your hands and feet, gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you. 

* While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.     

Travel By Car--Adjust the seat so you are as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible. Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips. Place four fingers behind the back of your thigh closet to your knee. If you cannot slide your fingers in and out of that space, you need to re-adjust your seat. 

* Consider a back support. Using a support may reduce the incidence of low-back strain and pain. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline. 

* Exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue, or discomfort. Open your toes as wide as you can, and count to 10. Count to five while you tighten your calf muscle, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal muscles. Roll your shoulders back and forth, make sure to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. 

* Do not grip the steering wheel. Instead, tighten and loosen your grip to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, waist, and hands. 

* Take rest breaks. Never underestimate the potential consequences of fatigue to yourself, your passengers, and other drivers.       

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