How to Keep Your Joints Moving Smoothly While Traveling to Avoid Pain and Stiffness

Movement of joints is important while traveling. I always get concerned when traveling that my joints will get locked up and I will not be able to walk and move well once we stop. Along with that, comes the stiffness and pain that I often have to work out as I start moving again. But here are some tips on how to keep your joints moving smoothly while traveling to reduce pain and stiffness.

Wear comfortable clothing

  • Footwear should allow for potential swelling and ability to remove them for a quick massage
  • Loose, comfortable clothing to support circulation, repositioning, and comfort
  • Consider support hose, especially if you are taking long trips or have a tendency for lower extremity swelling or have a history of blood clots.

Use props for support

  • An appropriate seat cushion can provide back support
  • A c-shaped neck support can support your neck while resting in a vehicle.
  • A travel memory foam travel pillow can help to support your legs, head, neck, or back, especially while resting. An adjustable one such as this twist memory foam one can be helpful for multiple support purposes.

Keep moving your joints

  • Neck exercises-Lay your head down toward one shoulder, letting your ear move as close to the shoulder as possible without causing pain. Perform the exercise on the opposite side. Then try dropping your chin down towards your chest, then move your chin first to one shoulder, then back to the middle, then to your other shoulder.
  • Foot exercises-rotate your ankles first one way, then another. Flex your feet up and down
  • Calf muscle exercises-Push your feet downward onto the floor while tightening your calf muscles.
  • Perform gentle waist bends and twists.
  • Periodic arm stretches can help with circulation and mobility. Flexing wrists, fingers, and stretching the arms are useful exercises.
  • Stop and get out of your seat at least hourly if possible to move around.
  • Change position every 10-30 minutes even if these are small to moderate changes.
Stretching while traveling can reduce muscle and joint stiffness and pain

Other tips:

  • Use a proper seat position and adjust your neck position correctly. Adjusting your car seat position is key for long drives while driving. Sitting in airplane seats is often challenging for me, as the headrest often pushes my head too far forward, which strains my neck. A c-shaped neck support can help keep your neck aligned in a neutral position and prevent the strain of leaning forward or against the plane window. Also, adjusting your seat position back slightly so that your neck is supported by the back of the seat may help.
  • If your feet don’t touch the ground to allow a flat position, use a travel bag or some other appropriate foot rest.
  • A rolled up towel behind your lumbar spine can help support your lower back if you don’t have adjustable lumbar seats in your vehicle.
  • Avoid reading or looking at your phone for prolonged periods where you are tilting your neck forward.
  • Listen to audiobooks or music instead of reading and keep your head in a neutral forward-facing position.
  • Control your body temperature with clothing and or adjusting the vehicle temperature. Being too cold can increase muscle and joint tension with shivering. Being too warm can lead to swelling.
  • Drink fluids, predominantly good quality drinking water to promote hydration and circulation. Don’t over restrict fluids just because you don’t want to go to the bathroom.
  • Eat healthy snacks and not fast food. Prepare in advance the snacks or meals you can take while traveling or where you will be stopping for good food. Avoid foods that you know aggravate your joint pain and stiffness. You can find key culprits here.
  • Chiropractors can help with joint adjustments and physical therapists can provide tips on body alignment and exercises to reduce joint pain as well as correct issues such as forward posture head tilt that often worsen with traveling. One of my favorite programs is Dr. Yoni Whitten’s Pain Fix Protocol.
Forward posture head tilt can create stiffness’s and pain in neck and back.
Forward posture head tilt correction

Take natural supplements to help reduce inflammation and stiffness

  • Taking preventative natural supplements containing curcumin, boswellia, Devil’s claw, yucca, ginger may help to reduce inflammation. These can also be taken several times per day to control pain. Fish oil supplements can be helpful to keep joints flexible and reduce inflammation. Note that while many supplements are available on the market, professional, third party tested supplements may only be available through a practitioner. These supplements do not contain unnecessary additives or allergens.
  • If you experience pain, topical products containing peppermint, boswellia, arnica, or CBD oil may help with inflammation and pain.
  • If you have a history of blood clots, confer with your healthcare provider.

As a nurse, I worked with patients to help them maintain their range of motion to support their joint mobility, flexibility and to reduce susceptibility to blood clots. As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and health coach, I help people identify hidden stressors such as food, toxins, gut issues that may unknowingly contribute to chronic joint pain and stiffness so that they feel better, move better, live better. My clients are active and family-focused and enjoy travel. Learning the root triggers of joint pain and addressing them with a personalized protocol with diet, exercise, lifestyle, and professional grade supplement recommendations can help them be freer to travel while experiencing less joint discomfort.

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