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Spring break travelers: Take care of your body

Rose White • Mar 31, 2017 at 4:00 PM

To some, spring break means a sunny vacation somewhere warm, but getting there can strain your body.

The following are a few tips on how to take care of yourself while traveling and on vacation.

On road trips, travelers end up sitting for long periods of time. Dave Buursma is a physical therapist at i’move in Grand Haven. He said suggests people on road trips should move as much as possible.

“Our bodies are designed to move,” he said, “and the prolonged postures of traveling take a toll on our joints and muscles.”

It can be tempting for passengers to lean back and take a nap, but Buursma warns against falling asleep without neck support.

“Pack a pillow or even a small traveling neck pillow for a little added support and comfort,” he said.

For drivers, Buursma recommends using cruise control when possible so that they can sit with their feet flat on the ground with their hips level or just below the knees. It can also be helpful to get some back support. An upright sitting posture can be helped with “a small towel roll or using the lumbar support of your car seat,” he said.

Once arriving, Buursma suggests stretching leg muscles, hips and the spine.

“After sitting for several hours, it’s important to stretch muscles and move joints that have been kept in shortened positions,” he said.

Flying to a spring break destination comes with its own challenges and stresses on the body.

“The best way to combat the common aches and pains of being cramped in an economy-class seat is to get up and move,” Buursma said.

It can be tricky to do that on a plane without disturbing other passengers too much. Buursma suggests getting up every 30-60 minutes. That might not be feasible, “so a good goal to set would be getting up every 1-2 hours to stretch,” he said.

When it comes to nutrition, Buursma advises bringing healthy snacks in order to avoid eating food from gas stations or airports.

For all travelers, Buursma’s biggest tip is to drink plenty of water.

“The human body is made up of nearly two-thirds water,” he said, “so it is essential to stay properly hydrated in order to maintain optimal health while traveling. Stay moving, stay hydrated and enjoy the time away.”

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