3 Tips to Travel Pain Free this Summer

It’s summer time and that means it is time for traveling! Whether it’s travel abroad, a weekend beach trip or just down the road for a get-together, a summer pain free is one worth celebrating!


Most people have encountered a bout of low back, hip, or leg pain after a long road trip or a plane ride.  When traveling, we may attribute it to our heavy board bag and luggage or those horrible airplane seats. Ironically, the pain that is experienced in the lower back, hip, or leg may actually be coming from the front of your hip.


The hip flexor muscles or iliopsoas is a group of muscles-iliacus and iliopsoas—that connect the lumbar vertebra in the spine to the femur—thigh bone. Theses muscles act to flex the abdomen down to the thigh or to lift the thigh to the abdomen. Because of the attachment to the spine, if these muscles are contracted for a period of time as in sitting on a plane, pain can be felt in the low back, hip or leg.  Extended time sitting can also cause the glutes to fire improperly, tilt the pelvis forward, and jam the facet joints in the spine.

To prevent your iliopsoas from ruining your summer fun, here are a few helpful tips:


1. Move around. The most common tip to travelers is to move around as much as possible. If in a car, take frequent breaks to allow you to get out of the car and move around. If in the plane, try and get up at least once during the ride. Moving around will not only stretch the iliopsoas, but increase blood flow to the lower body.


2. Stretch. To stretch the iliopsoas, place the left knee on the floor, get into a kneeling position with the right foot on the floor slightly in front. Contract and activate the glutes in the back of the right hip and gently push forward, stretching the left hip flexor in front of the hip. Keep the back straight and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. Be sure not to push front knee over front foot and keep a 90 degree angle in the front knee. 

3. Release the iliopsoas. The easiest way to have the iliopsoas released is to have a therapist or healthcare professional do it for you. If this is not available, find a ball, slightly larger than a tennis ball. Lie face down onto the ball, supporting your body with your elbows and feet. The ball should be positioned a little to the side and below the belly button. Continuously breathe and push your body into the ball for 10-30 seconds, releasing the trigger points in the muscle. The iliopsoas trigger points are very painful, so be sure to support your body with your elbows and toes to vary the depth of the therapy.


To travel pain free, free the iliopsoas. Happy Travels!