Sciatica doesn’t have to prevent you from being able to travel.
Sometimes a journey can create a series of challenges for people with sciatic nerve pain in the low back and leg.
A common issue among individuals is to prevent sciatica from flaring up when on the road or in the air.
A solution for this is to find ways to keep moving. However, easier said than done, but it can be done!
Flying and driving often mean long periods of sitting and sitting in a position typically not friendly with sciatic pain.
“When we drive or fly for an extended trip, it means long sitting times, and sitting in a position that can cause sciatica to flare up at any time,” says Dr. Alexander Jimenez, D.C. in El Paso, Texas, and member of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
Dr. Jimenez shares some basic tips for keeping mobility up, all the while pain-free, when flying and driving with sciatica.
He also offers additional advice to keep radiating pain from starting, upon arrival.
Flying with Sciatica
Sciatica pain radiates through the lower body meaning:
- The low back
So when a flight anchors you to a seat, this can aggravate the area and cause pain.
The first thing to consider is the seat choice.
An aisle seat allows you the easiest access out of the seat, allowing you to move more during the flight.
Also when flying with sciatica, tell the flight crew about your condition.
When the seatbelt off light comes on, get up, stretch your legs and move around anywhere you can find room.
With a good portion of the population suffering from sciatica, most crews have seen people with this condition, and will usually let you do some stretching if they’re not busy.
A good sciatica stretch is to put your hands on something stable and do some deep knee bends.
This will use the upper body weight to stretch the lumbar spine comfortably.
Do a few and make sure you feel and return to your seat stretched and refreshed.
When taking a long flight, do this every hour to feel better when landing.
Sciatica Road Trip
Road trips, on the other hand, are easier to stop and move around. However, it can also create over-concentration on the drive and forgetting how much you are hurting until the pain is unbearable.
Dr. Jimenez advises frequent stops, if possible every hour is best to prevent pain.
On the stops walk two or three laps around the car/Suv/truck.
Rear bumper stretching prop
Place one foot on the bumper, and the other a few feet behind, lean into the bumper and square the hips with the lead foot.
This is like a hurdle stretch.
Stretch both legs on each break.
Regular stretching helps relieve the pressure on the low back so you can drive comfortably.
Packing light is a healthy tip because hauling heavy luggage will aggravate sciatic nerve pain.
There are a few things that Dr. Jimenez recommends packing or getting upon arrival.
- Gel ice pack you can keep in the refrigerator or freezer in a hotel.
- Apply the cold pack to the low back for 20-minute increments will go a long way toward relieving pain.
- Topical agent/cream/gel that has menthol or camphor, that you can apply to any area of tenderness or pain before the ice gel pack.
- This increases the ice pack’s power by helping relax muscles and decreasing pain.
- Supportive shoes or custom foot orthotics
- People with sciatica should choose footwear or orthotics that support all three arches of the foot.
- Leg length is usually not equal on each side, and proper arch supports can be custom made for you by your chiropractor to compensate for the difference.
- Even a 5mm difference can cause chronic back pain.
- And if possible, ask your chiropractor or primary physician if they can recommend a chiropractor, physical/massage therapist, or acupuncturist that you can see in case you need emergency treatment.
This can give you some peace of mind.
Keep Your Exercise/Stretching Routine When Traveling
When we travel especially on vacations it can be easy to let healthy lifestyle habits you practice at home slide.
- Healthy diet
- Sound sleep
- Physical activity
All are sciatica’s natural enemies make sure to bring these healthy practices with you to your destination.
Use the same good sense when you travel just like at home getting:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of water
- Don’t overeat
You will need more rest when you travel and don’t forget when you travel to:
- Stay mobile
Difference *FOOT LEVELERS ORTHOTICS* Make to Correct Foot Posture | El Paso, TX (2019)
Custom foot orthotics can help control foot motion and posture. Healthcare professionals prescribe custom foot orthotics to help patients focus on the control of their foot posture and mobility. Research studies have determined that utilizing custom foot orthotics for posture and mobility control can help correct excessive foot pronation and supination to prevent a variety of foot health issues. The following video describes how custom foot orthotics can help control foot posture and mobility to improve health and wellness.
Sciatica is generally caused by the compression of lumbar or sacral nerves or by compression of the sciatic nerve. When sciatica is caused by compression of a dorsal nerve root, it’s known as lumbar radiculopathy. This can occur because of a spinal disk bulge or spinal disk herniation (a herniated intervertebral disc), or by roughening, enlarging, or misalignment (spondylolisthesis) of the fascia, or as a consequence of degenerated discs which can reduce the diameter of the lateral foramen by which nerve roots exit the spine.