Traveling during the holidays can be extremely stressful, so you need to protect your body and give some extra TLC to your organic spirit. If you’re flying home or driving for more than a few hours, it’s particularly vital to protect your back.

“All that sitting in seats that aren’t designed specifically for you can take a toll,” says Dr. Scott Donkin, a chiropractor, ergonomics expert and author of “Sitting on the Job.”

“Even though you’re sitting in a plane, car or bus,” he adds, “there is still activity in your body. There are pressures and forces at work”—all of which can flatten your spine when it should remain curved or tilt your head at an awkward angle.

Dr. Donkin and the American Chiropractic Association encourage holiday travelers to heed the following tips to avoid aches, strains and soreness:

  • Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain this curve when you take your seat. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the beltline. Lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks slightly.
  • Check bags heavier than 20% of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck. While lifting your bags, stand straight—away from the overhead compartment—so the spine is not rotated during the process. Don’t lift your bags over your head, and don’t turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
  • When stowing belongings under your seat, don’t force the object with an awkward motion of your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat and, using both hands, stow your bags in the space directly in front of you.

Tune in tomorrow for more holiday travel tips that fit your organic lifestyle…