Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Avoiding Joint Pain During Travel

Editor’s Note: Todd Wegerski, clinic director for the Brier Creek, CaryMorrisville and Southpoint Joint Chiropractic clinics contributed to this article.

Cary, NC – How many of you remember the classic movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles?” While I enjoyed watching this again over the weekend, it made me think about all of my patients who will be traveling over the holidays and how you can prevent injuries as you travel. Remember, the holidays are stressful and our bodies are more prone to injury when we are under stress.

Our cervical spine needs attention too, but it is often like the middle child of the family and ignored. You can you tuck your chin and push against the headrest to effectively stretch and strengthen these important muscles.  Hold for 10 seconds and relax.  Repeat 10 times per hour.

Another piece of advice: tennis balls are not just for tennis people! Carry one or more with you everywhere you travel.

  • Use it against the backrest in the plane, train or automobile to gently massage those trouble spots!
  • Sit on it! That was funny in the 1970s, but it’s effective to stretch and relieve sitting pain.  Sit on the tennis ball and allow it to penetrate the trigger points to relax the glutes and piriformis muscles.
  • Take your own lumbar support for the plane, train or that rental car that may not be as luxurious as what you usually drive in Cary, NC.



  • Pack more bags that weigh less rather than one large bag fully loaded.
  • If utilizing overhead storage, ask that handsome gentleman for a little help. This tip is not only for the ladies.
  • Let baggage handlers do their job. It’s worth the baggage fee to prevent an injury!
  • Always use carts and wheels on your luggage. Even lifting one heavy bag onto a cart can cause an injury. Focus on more, smaller bags!
  • Stay hydrated and limit alcohol intake. Our muscles require hydration, and the air on a plane is very dry.


While we don’t travel on trains in the United States as much as in other countries, keep these simple tips in mind.

  • Trains are amazing as they usually provide more room to get up to stretch. Do this often, but hold on to the seat or someone near you. Please check with the person before holding onto them though. You may meet a new friend this way!
  • Be careful when standing or walking since the train can shift quickly.


  • Stop at least hourly to stretch and get the blood flowing. Do some deep knee bends to get the big muscles working. Also stretch your neck, back, shoulders, hands and feet.
  • Adjust the headrest to touch the back of your head. If it’s too low, a rear end collision could cause a serious whiplash injury
  • Do not allow passengers to put their feet on the dash. Can you imagine the shape of their legs after the airbag deploys in an accident.

It is my sincere hope that you will follow some of these simple and sometimes funny tips to return from you holiday vacations in great health.  Come by The Joint Chiropractic and share your own tips and success stories with me, and I’ll gladly add them to my next article.


Todd Wegerski is the clinic director for the Brier Creek, CaryMorrisville and Southpoint Joint Chiropractic clinics. Photos by Nihan Peker and Rene SchweitzkeHealth and wellness content is sponsored in part by Joint Chiropractic.