What is it about a vacation that makes staying comfortable so hard? Travel wears on the human body in a lot of ways, but muscle aches are probably one of the most frustrating and difficult to deal with. Nothing puts a damper on a honeymoon quite like a sore back or a stiff neck.
You can’t help having to fly places, and you can’t help that the hotel you’re staying at has the world’s worst mattresses — but you can do a few things to keep your neck from becoming a block of stone when you travel.
Here are some simple, no-brainer ways to prevent neck pain, even when you’re traveling.
Drink Plenty of Water
It’s easy to not get enough water to drink when you’re dashing to airport terminals and eyeing a $4.00 bottle sitting in your hotel room wet bar. Dehydration is incredibly common during travel, and can cause muscle fatigue, headaches, and an overall feeling of exhaustion.
The best way to prevent muscle aches and cramps of any kind when you travel is to plan ahead for hydration. Bring a large, leakproof water bottle with you, or keep it empty and fill it up after you get through airport security. Every time you stop somewhere, even if it’s still half full, fill it back up so you never run out.
Take Frequent Breaks
Sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time can cause soreness and muscle stiffness. To keep your neck from getting sore when you travel, take as many breaks as you can. Get up and walk around, or try stretching your neck from side to side.
Even just changing up your activity can change the way you carry your spine, which can prevent neck pain.
Support Your Neck On Long Flights and Drives
We love travel pillows around here, and for good reason. Even if you’re not a person who sleeps on flights or long drives, using a travel pillow will keep your neck in alignment while you’re stuck under a seatbelt.
Some travel pillows allow your head to fall to the side or too far forward, which is not a good thing.
“If the head is too far forward, it can lead to many physical problems, including loss of lordosis in the cervical spine, creating increased disk pressure, increased muscle activation, and tension on the spinal cord and nerve roots,” says Jana Montgomery, a Senior Clinical Research Scientist.
The BR2 Travel Pillow is ergonomically designed, firm enough to actually do some good for your neck and spine, and look pretty darned good doing it.
Sit Up Straight In Your Seat
It’s tempting to try to lounge when you’re stuck in a seat for a long drive or flight, but try to resist the urge. Instead, square your shoulders and hips, press your back into the back of the seat, and sit with your feet directly under your knees.
Sitting up straight will ensure your spine stays in alignment, while will keep the vertebrae in your in alignment and prevent neck pain while you travel.
Bring a Firm Pillow to the Hotel
Hotels are notorious for big marshmallow beds and fluffy feather pillows. While they feel like a slice of heaven to sink into at first, soft pillows not ideal in most cases because they just don’t offer enough support.
You may not be able to bring your own mattress with you when you travel, but you can bring your own pillow. Use a firm contour pillow to keep your neck in proper alignment, even on a soft bed.
If the bed is too soft and you’re still having issues with back or neck pain, ask the front desk for extra bedding, and sleep on the floor (seriously). It’s a common misconception that softer is better.