The holidays are an exciting season to spend much-needed time with family and friends. However, this often means traveling in a plane, car, or bus. And while many of us would do just about anything for our loved ones, travel can strain our bodies.  

Travel can be difficult for the fittest among us, but for those of us with orthopedic issues, it can be especially uncomfortable. If you're planning for long hours in a car or short, tight flights, you may want to browse these top tips from the experts at UAB Medical West. Keep reading to learn how to maintain comfort and mobility before, during, and after your travels.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated can ease inflammation and joint pain while traveling. Up to 80% of our cartilage is water, so it’s essential that you prioritize hydration to ease orthopedic pain while on the go.
While you should always be conscious of hydration, it’s vital to focus on your water intake the day before you embark on your adventure. The airplane's low humidity and air pressure can quickly dehydrate you and cause inflammation, leading to sore joints and cramped muscles. If traveling by plane, experts recommend eight ounces of water per hour, but the recommended amount may be more or less depending on the longevity of your flight.
If you’re in the car, recirculated air and temperature changes can increase your risk of dehydration. Each day you travel, we recommend you drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water per each pound of body weight to guarantee you’re hydrated. Following this general guideline can ease muscle cramps and boost energy levels. 

Get Active

Extended periods of sitting can make orthopedic pain much worse. To avoid any inflammation or orthopedic discomfort, we recommend moving every 2 hours. If you’re in the car, planning out your stops in advance can make this easy– stop for gas, grab some road trip snacks, and walk around to boost blood circulation. 
If you’re flying, try walking down the aisle and stretching frequently. Walking up and down the aisle can do wonders for your body, reducing stiffness and promoting blood circulation. Likewise, stretching your ankles, wrists, back, and other sore areas can be worthwhile. If you hate crawling over others to get to the aisle, it may be beneficial to book the aisle seat to ensure you stay active while flying.

Pack Smart

It can be easy to stuff all your favorite holiday sweaters into your bag. But, if you suffer from orthopedic pain, we recommend you pack smart. Lifting heavy items and straining your muscles can lead to orthopedic discomfort and increase inflammation. 
If you travel long distances or tend to overpack, use a bag with wheels. A suitcase or rolling duffle can take the pressure off your joints and help you get around quicker too. 
Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. If you’re loading a heavy bag into a car or placing it in the overhead compartment, it may strain your back, knees, and other sensitive areas. Often, flight attendants or friendly passengers nearby are happy to help.

Make Sleep Preparations

Sleep is crucial for healing. If can schedule a flight that isn’t overnight, and get a good night's rest the following day, sleep can make a monumental difference for your orthopedic pain while traveling. When booking your lodging, make a comfortable night's sleep a priority. If you can, ensure a larger, more comfortable sleeping arrangement to help you heal and rest up after your travels.

Prepare for Holiday Travel

Don’t let your pain keep you from enjoying the holiday season! Preparation is key if you’re suffering from back pain, knee pain, or other orthopedic pain. By planning ahead, you can eliminate your pain triggers and ease your discomfort as you travel. 
Our team at UAB Medical West understands how frustrating and disheartening orthopedic pain can be. If you or someone you love is dealing with long-term pain, our professionals can help you feel your best this holiday season. Don’t hesitate to reach out and find the relief you deserve!

Interested in Learning More About Pain Relief?

Find relief from aching bones and joints– just in time for the holiday season. UAB Medical West proudly serves Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, Vance, and others so that you can discover a solution to your pain. Call our professionals at 205-481-7000 or contact us online today!