It was 12 hours into my sixteen-hour bus ride from Bangkok to northern Thailand, and while we were passing through breathtakingly green scenery, all I could think about was my nagging back pain and upset stomach. I was in awe, excited, stressed and uncomfortable all at once.
At the time, I blamed the uncomfortably stiff seat I had been in for half a day. But looking back, there were a variety of other factors that probably contributed to my aches: the accumulation of sitting on the airplane in transit to Southeast Asia, the uncomfortable beds I’d slept in on the road so far (including my seat in an overnight bus), my cramped hour-long taxi ride, carrying my heavy backpack – the list goes on.
The point is – traveling isn’t exactly easy on one’s body. Even if you go into a trip well-tuned and pain-free, chances are something will throw you off along the way. And yeah – my trip was a wild one on a budget for an extended period of time… but even a short flight or drive and a few nights in a not-so-shabby accommodation with not-so-heavy luggage can still cause some major issues in your tissues.
Allow me to explain… For one, traveling usually requires a lot of sitting. As I discussed in my article Integrating YTU Therapy Balls into Your Daily Routine, this position tends to compress the tissues in contact with the sitting surface (compression = reduced circulation) and the fixed angles of flexion in the hips and knees creates unnatural shortening of certain muscles (mainly the hamstrings and hip flexors).
Also, traveling requires us to sleep in unfamiliar conditions. A variety of factors, including the mattress, bedding, pillows, temperature of the room, etc, can all change the way you sleep – whether you’re on your back, belly, or side (or different combinations of those).
And here’s one more – we often walk a lot more when we travel than we do in our daily lives – which is great – but if your body isn’t prepared for that, it can create some discomfort.
So, what’s the solution? Later this week I’ll explain what has worked for me and how you can incorporate a few effective tools and exercises for pain free travel.