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Jessica's Picks: Back Pain Relief

November 15, 2019

 

It's no secret that traveling is one of my favorite hobbies, but there is nothing that ruins a vacation more for me than back pain. It makes sitting on an airplane for long periods of time absolutely unbearable. The pain often gets in the way of doing simple things like putting my bags in the overhead compartment or walking on uneven pavement. Sleeping on beds and pillows that aren't my own only aggravates the pain even more. Simply put, 

BACK PAIN + TRAVEL = NOT FUN

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was about 14 years old after a horrible car accident (our truck flipped down a steep hill). It was the ER doctor that told me that my back was badly curved and twisted.

For years and years, I suffered from horrible neck and back pain and even considered surgery when I was in my 20's. Instead, I sought the help of chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and acupuncturists. I explored various other avenues like rolfing, feldenkrais, and pilates. I would often receive temporary relief and then go right back to being "stuck" or not being able to turn my head, or randomly having back spasms. The worst pain I felt was when I was pregnant with baby #2-- I bent down to pick up my baby #1 and fell to the ground in excruciating pain. I couldn't move. The doctor told me that I had 2 herniated discs and advised me not to carry anything until after I delivered baby #2. That wasn't possible because I had a 6 month old baby at home and so I went on a mission to find a solution.

That is when I discovered an Atlas Orthogonal chiropractor. It's not the typical type of chiropractic work you think of (manual manipulations aka cracking and popping). Those types of doctors used to make me feel better for about two days max and then I'd have to go back about a week later when I couldn't handle the pain anymore. If you can relate to this, I highly suggest you find an Atlas Orthogonal chiropractor. It's a super gentle approach to chiropractic care (my doctor treated all of my kids as newborns)  and has helped me immensely-- I never had surgery for my herniated discs and I only go once a month if needed. 

Unfortunately I cannot bring my chiropractor on vacation with me, so these are the 5 things that I pack when I go out of town in case my neck and back start to flare up.

Rapid Release Juvenate

At my chiropractor's office, I discovered this magical contraption called a Rapid Release Juvenate. It is not cheap-- but it is an investment that has definitely paid off for me. When I get muscle spasms, I use it for about 5 minutes and the pain is alleviated. I have tried almost every other percussion massager on the market- all of them cost significantly less for a reason-- they don't work as well!! I bought the one with the rechargeable battery because I also got a European charger to bring on my trips abroad. It especially comes in handy on long travel days and also after walking on cobblestone or hiking. Without it, I would likely be spending time on my vacation looking for a physiotherapist or a massage therapist (this did happen to me two years ago in Italy-- I spent more money on unhelpful massages than the cost of the Rapid Release. If you use the link above, you'll get $50 off in your cart (and if you don't like it, you can return it for a 15% restocking fee-- definitely worth a try!)

Chirp Wheel+ 

A few summers ago, we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary in Positano with about 20 of our friends. One of those friends brought along a huge foam roller. We all made fun of her and told her she looked ridiculous for carrying it onto planes and trains, but then we all wanted to use it because our backs hurt from walking up and down hundreds of stairs day after day. The Chirp Wheel+ (I have the 6") not only works better at targeting deep tissue than the foam roller, but it's also much smaller and more convenient to bring along on trips. I put it on my carry-on and pack around it to utilize all of the space. I roll my back on the wheel every night (even when I'm not on vacation- it works wonders if you've been hunched over a computer all day long- especially between the shoulder blades).

Deep Blue

There's just something about a minty scent that immediately brings relief to my sore muscles. I've tried all sorts of oils and creams, but Deep Blue has been my go-to for years. I love that it's not greasy and it lasts long. I particularly find the little travel packets useful because they're easy to keep in your purse or cell phone case.

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil

Apparently, most Americans are magnesium deficient. One of my doctors suggested this was why I often got leg cramps and prescribed an oral magnesium supplement. I still got the leg cramps. My chiropractor suggested I try the Ancient Minerals spray because magnesium is more easily absorbed through the skin. My leg cramps went away. Now, whenever my neck or back feel like they're going to lock up, I use this spray and then I roll on my Chirp wheel. I have to admit it does sting a little, but it doesn't bother me much. They also have a spray for sensitive skin.

Turtl Neck Pillow


Yes, this pillow will make you look ridiculous. Yes, this pillow will prevent neck pain if you fall asleep on an airplane, train, or in the car. It will also keep your neck nice and warm and you can hide your face in it if someone next to you is coughing or sneezing. To me, it's worth the humiliation. I don't travel without my Turtl neck pillow


 

 

I never leave on a vacation or even a short work trip without these 5 items. My physical therapist used to tell me that if I want a strong back, I need a strong front. I knew that meant doing abdominal exercises, which are definitely not my favorite. She was right, though. Strengthening my core has been vital in preventing further injuries (I never got surgery for my herniated discs, nor do I feel the need to). Daily stretching is also key and the best part about it is that it's free =)

Happy traveling!

 

 

 

*These opinions are 100% my own. I was not paid to use any of these products, but found them in my own search for the best pain relieving products. Consult with your healthcare practitioner if necessary. This post contains affiliate links.




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