Travel Pains

By Alana Simler

Lucky me, I got to go to a Seahawk game!  Jealous?  You should be; a ton of energy and fun emitted from that beautiful stadium.  I almost didn’t go.  With a recent back injury I thought to myself, “How am I going to survive a car ride and stadium seats for a day?  Yet, on the other hand, how could I turn down this highly prized offer?”  So, I decided to buck up and concentrate on the fun side.

I’m sure many of you will have similar situations as the holiday season approaches and traveling to gatherings and celebrations ensues.  Injuries and then traveling or pains from traveling itself are experienced by almost all of us.  We experience tired necks and backs during road trips, aching legs from cramped airplanes, or even a headache from the stress of trying to be ready for each function.  Nevertheless, we suffer through and “grin and bear it.”

Maybe we don’t have to succumb to the stress and pain that we feel is inevitable in these situations.  Maybe we can try a little self-care that just might help alleviate tension and discomfort in our bodies.  In order to carry on with my plans to go to this game I had to think of ways that I could be more comfortable and not injure my back further.

Being a massage therapist, it’s natural for me to want to massage or receive massage for my injury, but how do you do that in car?  Well, you turn to Reflexology and work on your hands.  I used that travel time to press on each nook and cranny of my hands.  Each time I found a sore or achy area I spent more time there and worked it out.  Reflexology helps unblock energy channels within the body allowing your body to heal itself.  Pressure to the feet/hand/ears sends calming messages from the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system.  This signals the body to adjust tension levels.

I not only survived the travel and stadium seats, I truly enjoyed myself and felt minimal discomfort.  The results were delightful and a bit surprising.  I have seen results with this style of bodywork before, but to use it on myself with such a pleasant outcome opened my eyes to seeing how this technique could be utilized more often.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Reflexology and I don’t think you need to be an expert to gain some relief by using its basic principles.  Plus you can work on your own hands/feet or take turns with your traveling companions and work on each other.  How simple and easy it is to trade hand massages while flying through the air or riding in a car.  If this feels good and gets you some results, imagine what going to an expert in this field must feel like!

By looking at this Reflexology diagram, it can give you an idea of what areas might correlate to parts of your body that are bothering you.  In general, here is a guideline to follow when working on hands and feet – whether they are your own or a loved one’s:

  • Start with lighter pressure to warm the tissues.
  • Lotion helps glide, but isn’t necessary if unavailable.
  • Let your fingers be curious to the contours of the structures. Start with pressures at the heel of the hand/foot and outline all the bones.  The base of the thumb has some good meaty tissue that feels wonderful to work on.  Wring out each finger/toe and follow the spaces between the fingers/toes as they extend down in to the hand/foot itself.
  • Listen to feedback from your body or from the person you’re working on and adjust pressure to comfortable levels.


Here are a couple other travel tips for alleviating tension:

  • Take a tennis ball or other similar sized ball (racquetball, toy ball) and use it to relieve back and hip tightness. For example, place it behind your back in the car/plane and move it around to the different sore areas.  Or sit on it (typically toward the outside of the hips) to help release tension.
  • Bring essential oils to add to your lotion or oil while working on hands/feet. Some good peppermint oil not only will be invigorating for the driver, but it helps with headaches, pain relief, nausea and respiratory problems. (Be careful using in public areas, such as a plane, in case someone has sensitivities to certain scents).  Check out other essential oils for their specific properties and benefits.
  • Stretch your neck while sitting in your seat. A good stretch session can make a world of difference for you and doesn’t take up any room.
    • Move your ear toward your shoulder and hold for 30-60 seconds, repeat on other side.
    • Look down and hold.
    • Turn and look over your shoulder, then tilt down to look at your shoulder and hold, repeat on other side.


Not only do these tips help you feel better, but when used on a companion they lift both of your spirits and help you to feel closer to each other.  Enjoy the upcoming holiday season and help take care of yourself and the ones that you love!

Travel Tool Kit

  • A small ball – a tennis/racquetball for releasing pressure points
  • Essential Oils – peppermint and lavender are good choices
  • Lotion – a good quality lotion or oil without imitation frangrances
  • Arnica Montana – an ointment, cream or gel that eases pain/inflammation and has almost no smell (making it great for public spaces)
  • White Flower Oil and Tiger Balm – helps ease muscle soreness and headaches (they have stronger smells, be careful in public spaces)