How to Travel Ergonomically


By:  Ken Zans

So, you have a fancy alternative computer keyboard. You have made your office environment more comfortable by purchasing ergonomically correct office furniture and you take frequent rest breaks, yet there is something you probably have not considered: Once you head out the door, everything changes.

Traveling can be an ergonomic disaster, but there are ways you can minimize the stress on your body. The idea is to rearrange things, take some ergonomic solutions with you, and remember that you have control over your environment.

Here are some tips that will look after your back and overall health:

Before The Flight

  • Prepare for your flight. Up your water, avoid alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours before departure and aim for a good night's sleep.

  • Pick the right luggage. Even if you always check your luggage, choose luggage of a size and shape that you can actually lift without someone's help.

  • Make sure all hand and shoulder straps are sturdy and will actually support the weight you are likely to carry. Look for well-padded and adjustable straps, and try them in various positions to be sure they are comfortable for you.

  • Plan your packing. Do not pack unnecessary items which can weigh your luggage down.

During The Flight

  • Take the pillows. Use the pillow to support your head and neck. Position them at your lower back and on your shoulder. If pillows are scarce, use a rolled up airline blanket usually found in the overhead bins.

  • Do not nap unsupported. Try not to sleep on the plane without supporting your neck and shoulders. A U-shaped inflatable pillow works best, and can be found at most airport gift shops.

  • Loosen your shoelaces. This sounds crazy, but it really works. Wear shoes that you can slip off easily during flight or loosen your shoelaces after take-off. Your feet will thank you when you arrive at your destination.

  • Leave yourself leg room. Keep adequate space under the seat in front of you for your feet. Keep your feet in front of you at all times, and do not cross your legs. If you have a small carry-on bag, place it in the center with your feet to either side.  If you have a larger carry-on, place it in the overhead bin above your seat.

  • Get up and walk around. Try to secure an aisle seat. There is nothing that says you cannot go to the restroom once an hour. Simply getting up and moving around will help reduce the pressure on your legs and spine.

  • Stay away from alcohol during the flight. Drink water rather than alcohol, coffee or tea. Flying dehydrates the body because of the very low humidity levels in the pressurized cabin. Alcohol, tea and coffee are diuretics that also encourage dehydration.

  • Do not use your laptop. Try to plan your time so you catch up on reading instead of using your laptop during travel. Dinner tray height and the lack of adequate seating space are not conducive to proper body mechanics when typing on a laptop computer.

When You Arrive

  • Use the skycaps. Treat yourself after a long and tiring flight.

Finally, no matter how you plan to travel, remember that ergonomics is similar to the American Express card. You shouldn't leave home without it.

By: Ken Zans

© 2015 Alliance Training and Consulting, Inc.



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