More Travel tips for a healthy back

Gentle Reader,

A month ago, reflecting on managing arthritis when traveling,  http://nowheelchair.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/pain-free-flying/, I promised more hints for healthy travel.  Here they are.

Overnight flights: these are the killers for a bad back, especially when you really do need that sleep to begin your first day functioning.  I can usually sleep with the help of a sleep aid, a neck pillow and a pillow for lumbar support.  You can buy these on line at Amazon I haven’t actually tried the one pictured, but will probably get it for my next big adventure mid February.  My granddaughter and I are off to Nicaragua with a group from Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.  This is an all day trip and I chose a two stop itinerary.  You probably think I’m crazy.  I have found that shorter hops and getting up to change plans, actually helps maintain back health.  It is long flights that put the lower back at greatest risk.

We will probably be at the airport and through the check in and security screening with plenty of time to spare.  While waiting for my flight, I often lie on the floor in an out-of-the way spot and do some simple Feldenkrais and Pilates moves to line everything up before boarding.  Alicia will probably be totally embarrassed at her grandmother’s bizarre behavior.  It is easy to make a 13 yr. old uncomfortable!

Once we arrive at our hotel, I will do some simple stretches, mostly lying flat on my back before getting into bed.  Take the bed covering and lay it on the floor as a mat to protect yourself from the myriad leavings of many previous shoes and bare fee.  In the morning, find a chair without arms or the corner of the bed to sit on and do a series of sitting stretches.  I use Jennifer Kreis’s Hot Body, Cool Mind sitting series designed to wake up every joint and gently stretch every muscle.  I have been using this DVD and this particular segment for so many years that I have the moves memorized.  I think my immune system is greatly supported by the lymphatic thumping at the head, neck, inner elbow and underarms, chest, stomach and groin, then down the spine.  The same DVD has a standing chi gong segment, plus a Pilates routine (too rigorous for most of us dealing with spinal issues), a simple yoga routine I love following, and several other segments.  You certainly get your money’s worth when you buy this DVD.  My grandchildren think this little routine of mine at the corner of the bed is hilarious and they have teased me about it months after our trips together.  By the way if you are interested in the pictures from these trips, go to www.betsystrips.shutterfly.com.  Enjoy.

For those overnight flights getting to your destination between 6 and 9 in the morning, the best antidote to jet lag is outdoor walking.  Arriving in Ireland with May, and in Scotland with Danny and Carsten, we set out walking the town, the countryside, the castle grounds (save serious tourist investigation for later when you are rested).  Keep moving.  Stop for a snack when needed.  Tea helps.  When you check in to your hotel, maybe 30 minutes flat, but avoid a deep sleep.  Walk to a place for supper and then go to bed.  You will wake up remarkably rested and in tune with the new time zone.  Once traveling to India, I walked my legs off all day long in Bombay, now Mumbai.  There was no where to sit down, the parks occupied by homeless.  I knocked on the door of a church and asked if I could sit for a little while.  A little later I joined at lot of office workers in a cafeteria style restaurant, sitting at a long table and listening to their chatter.  I’ve never felt unsafe.  People are nice the world over.  As someone said, there are only 10 bad people in the world; they just move around a lot.

I carry a back pack instead of a purse.  This was recommended to me by my chiropractor years ago.  I know it’s hard to fashionable, but they make some really cute back packs these days.  When traveling, keep your eyes wide open and aware at all times, and pull that pack around in front to hug next to your chest at the slightest hint of crowded conditions or motor scooters approaching too close.  Never leave it hanging on the back of a chair.

My really important stuff, i.e.  money and passport, plane tickets, URail pass, CC and Drivers License, are always in a money belt.  If you haven’t heard of him,

Rick Steves, Europe Through the Back Door, is a travel guru and his store in Edmonds, WA (and on line) sells the most comfortable money belts ever made.  The material handles sweaty Latin American, Asian and African climates and there is a plastic lining to keep your documents and money from getting wet from your dripping sweat.

I just heard a story yesterday at our Nicaragua orientation about a woman whose back pack with her money in an outside pocket was on top of the bus transporting them to their next home stay.  A sudden down pour soaked her pack and her money was ruined.  USA dollars with a black bleed from a notebook making every bill’s denomination indistinguishable.  Keep your money in your money belt inside the plastic liner.   Put in on with your underpants every morning.  Loose change for the day’s expense can live in your pants pocket in a small purse.

Personally, I think the stress of travel can increase your arthritis twinges.  The money belt wearing practice and the back pack for your sun screen, water bottle, camera, notebook and guide book, can smooth out your day and reduce stress.  Keep your pain-reducing supplements or medicines for the day, plus your supplements for the next meal and a couple meal bars or snack bars in the back pack as well.

One last tip:  when walking, a brisk pace will keep your back healthier.  The museum walk is lethal.  I remind myself to pull up the pelvic floor while staring at a painting or waiting in line, a kegel exercise.  Straighten your shoulders and let your skeleton drop from the base of the skull.  You will fatigue much more slowly.  Take tea breaks to rest.  If it gets too bad, hang upside down.  Here I am doing that in Montreal.  My grandson hid when some other tourist came by.  Ah, youth.  They will have arthritis someday and perhaps he’ll remember his silly grandma.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Healt4u

206 933 1889

www.HiHoHealth dot com

Comments

  1. Jill says

    Loved your article, Betsy! You are darling, an example to myself & all & I am priviledged to be your friend!! ;o) Jill

    • says

      I have had RA since I was 11 so I understand the pain(I am 24 now)-and it tears my huasnbd up that there isnt much he can do to take it away-but the simple things like helping me get dressed or tying my shoes or combing my hair-that helps me alot when I am in a lot of pain-doing the heavy lifting and helping me clean the house-massaging the painful areas helps me alot-it relieves some of the pain and my huasnbd applies heat compresses to my pain as well-but keeping positive attitudes helps ya deal alot better with the pain and him keeping a smile on his face and encouraging words helps meI dont know what kind of meds she takes but I find that the OTC Osteoflex for joints helps me move a little better cause it helps your joints out. And i also began taking the drug Humira and I have had a great improvement on that drug-But you sound like a great guy and i give ya points on wanting to help her out-cause some men don’t have such a giving attitude and sometimes dont want nothing to do with ya-so stay awesome

      • says

        Doggy Glucosamine works wonders. I fsoeertd an 8 year old arthritic dog who could hardly walk around the dog park. After a few weeks on Glucosamine and a few pounds lighter, he was running around like a puppy. Great stuffYou get people Glucosamine at the health food store natural enough for ya?

  2. says

    There are several tnighs that you and your girlfriend can be doing to help deal with arthritis pain.For those with arthritis, preforming regular low impact exercises, such as walking or certain water sports, is very important. Regular safe exercise will help strengthen muscles, as well as improve flexibility and stamina. Often, arthritis pain comes from being inactive for too long, so this is also helped by exercise.Eating healthily is also important, which means not loading up on junk foods and making an effort to get the proper vitamins and nutrients, especially Vitamin D.Both exercise and diet can be very effective at helping to deal with arthritis pain, so as her boyfriend, you can help keep her motivated and push her to keep working.Another thing you can do is help her to learn to live with her arthritis. Learning to live with arthritis is important, because there is no cure for the diseases and there are going to be some tnighs that are more difficult to do. You can start by making a list of tnighs that your girlfriend has difficulty doing because of her arthritis or that cause her arthritis pain. Then, try to find ways of making these tasks easier. As an example, many people have difficulty cooking, so finding more efficient ways of cooking, is often one of the biggest problems faced by those with arthritis. Of course, everyone is different, so the ways it affects her life will vary.

  3. says

    My mother has arrhittis and has not been able to make a fist or open her hands all the way for about a year. She just started on a vitamin supplement called Replenix. She can now make a fist, open her hands and actually use her hands. She and I have been amazed with the results. If you would like more information please message me.

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