Minimize the physical effects of travel for patients through chiropractic care and insightful travel health advice
Travel in its many forms can be stressful and difficult on the body. Chiropractors are the ideal health care providers to help patients prepare physically and get into a healthy mindset to go on their adventures with insightful travel health advice.
We are the ones who know their spine and extremities and see their typical body patterns and trends. So, use this knowledge to help your patients when they excitedly tell you about their next vacation.
Get them coming and going
Encourage the patient to get adjusted as close to when they are planning to leave as possible, so their spine and extremities are aligned. Their bodies will travel with less stress, and they can also better withstand sleeping on different surfaces; riding in cars, airplanes and buses and hoisting their luggage repeatedly.
Invariably their spine and extremities will move out of alignment to some degree while they are away, so I also request that they schedule an appointment within a few days of their return.
Foot stabilization and travel
Proper custom support of the foot’s three arches for healthy function of the axial kinetic chain is crucial for all activities. With custom orthotics and footwear, your patients can experience greater comfort and mobility with less fatigue and strain on the body. This is especially important during travel, which may involve much more standing, lifting, walking, and stair-climbing than the patient is used to.
For patients, travel health advice includes that life is easier and more enjoyable when the body is properly supported. Ensuring flexible, three-arch custom arch support keeps patients feeling better when their vacation causes them to go a week or more without being adjusted. Proper foot and arch support also helps enhance the benefits of the ongoing chiropractic care you provide so expertly.
Travel health advice: offer ergonomic tips on packing
Remind patients that if they store their suitcases or travel bags in hard-to-reach places, to watch their body position and use a stool or ladder, when possible, to make it easier to access them. Travel health advice includes placing the suitcase or bag on an elevated surface like a bed or luggage rack while packing and unpacking to keep from bending over too much and putting excessive stress on the back.
People have a general tendency to overpack for a trip. Often, it ends up causing a suitcase to become much heavier. Our patients’ chances of hurting themselves rolling, carrying and lifting a suitcase increases as the bag nears 50 pounds (the weight limit for most single pieces of luggage). Getting overweight or bulky carry-on bags into and out of cramped airplane storage compartments causes further strain to the entire body. The heavier the bag, the more I encourage patients to check it, so they don’t have to deal with it until they get to their destination.
Discuss patient footwear plans
Opting to take unsupportive shoes can have dire consequences on a person’s body, and that negatively affects their vacation enjoyment. Recommend that they pack quality shoes that properly support their feet along with custom orthotics.
Explaining to patients that they have options for foot support with different shoes helps them make better, healthier choices. Find out what shoes the patient is going to pack for their vacation. You can proactively help them avoid issues they may experience on their trip, like low back pain or fatigue, by analyzing this before you go.
Have them bring these shoes in so you can examine them and see how well they will work with their custom orthotics. Show them your custom orthotic and custom footwear suggestions based on their shoes. Be sure to get them ordered with enough time for adequate break-in before their trip.
If someone is wearing custom orthotics already, a new pair still has a break-in period (although in my experience it is usually a shorter time period if their body is already used to custom stabilization).
If you plan ahead, you can identify which shoe types are not advantageous for the patient; this allows them to get better shoe options and/or orthotics that you suggest. This helps you frame a healthy narrative and better serve your patient.
Travel health advice tip: when people are traveling in airplanes, trains, buses and cruise ships, space is often a commodity. Help them understand that whatever they choose, their shoes and orthotic support must be more than just an afterthought. When was the last time you were someplace wearing shoes that did not have custom orthotics or the correct orthotics? You likely felt pain somewhere in your body. Imagine that multiplied day after day during an extended trip. Let’s help our patients avoid this situation.
For many people, flip-flops are a vacation staple. They’re great to wear in hotel rooms so feet don’t directly touch the floors. They’re convenient for airport security check-ins since they’re so easy to take on and off. However, with generic flip-flops so readily available, it’s important to educate patients about the benefits of custom flip-flops, with their prescription built right into the sole. They have the same iconic look and cool comfort patients love, but with the support and stability their bodies need.
Help patients vacation in comfort
Travel should be an opportunity to relax, unwind and recuperate from day-to-day stress. However, far too many people return so tired and uncomfortable that they need “a vacation from my vacation.” Through your expert care and recommendations, you can help patients come back with happy memories rather than aches and pains.
KEVIN M. WONG, DC, is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West. He has been in practice for more than 25 years and is the owner of Orinda Chiropractic & Laser Center in Orinda, Calif. As a member of Foot Levelers Speakers Bureau since 2004, he travels the country speaking on extremity and spinal adjusting. See upcoming continuing education seminars by Foot Levelers Speakers at footlevelers.com/continuing-education-seminars.