Using a Travel Pillow to Prevent Back and Neck Pain
The first time I saw a bed pillow I was a little doubtful about its benefits. However, a cross country train trip soon relieved me of that notion. The folks that had one slept well and didn't wake up with a 'crick in the neck' the way I often did.
If you've ever looked at the seats in mass conveyance vehicles such as trains, buses and airplanes, you know that they weren't designed with individual sizes in mind. If you are shorter or taller than normal, the lumbar and neck support areas of them are not going to hit you in the right place. It will feel more like the princess and the pea than a comfortable seat when these lumps and bumps hit the wrong part of your back.
Pillows can be helpful here. The bed pillow is especially useful, as it supports the back of your neck and doesn't allow the head to fall at an unnatural angle while you sleep. It may also have some benefits when you are reading or watching out the window.
If you have lower back pain, you may want to consider adding a lumbar pillow to your carry-on bag. This can provide support in the low back which tends to have something of a curvature. Both are fairly small, so they will be easily hauled around.
While this won't affect pain levels, you may want to consider a sleep mask. These cover the eyes so that lights and movement don't disturb your slumber. This is especially helpful when traveling on the ground, whether it's in a car, on a bus or a train. Headlights can wake even the soundest sleeper up.
If you suffer from back pain, I have one more 'pre-trip' suggestion. Go to your doctor and ask him/her what else you can do to prevent pain from ruining your trip. Medications may be necessary, or a list of exercises designed to strengthen your back muscles may be in order. When talking to your doctor, make sure you discuss what has caused the pain, any other medical conditions you have and any supplements/medications you currently use. This will help prevent side effects and harmful drug/herb interactions.
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