When planning your travel to your destination take your joint pain into consideration. If you are able to drive to your destination you can control when you stop, and take breaks appropriately to stretch. Although driving gives you more control it may lengthen the duration of travel overall.
When booking a train or a flight, consider reserving an aisle seat so that you are able to get up and stretch your legs more easily. If possible, you may want to book a seat with more leg room so that you have more room to move and reduce stiffness.
Shorter flights with connections can allow you to get off the airplane and move around in between flights, and in the end having less joint pain after you get to your destination.
Because arthritic joints tend to feel worse when in the same position for too long, it is beneficial to plan walk breaks and stretching into your travel. Try to aim to get up and move at least once per hour if it’s safe to do so.
Two exercises to promote blood flow to your legs are ankle pumps (point your toes away and towards you, 30 reps) and knee hugs (bring your knee to your chest and hold for 15 seconds, 10 times each leg). If you have an aisle seat or have enough leg room to do so, stretch out every so often to reduce joint stiffness.
Traveling often requires more walking and activity than on a normal schedule, so packing the proper tools to manage the extra exercise can help manage symptoms. First, use lightweight luggage with wheels, so you don’t have to carry extra weight on your joints.
Even if you don’t normally use an assistive device, a foldable cane can be packed in your travel luggage to pull out if needed. An extra pillow or blanket can also help positioning while seated.
To be prepared in the case that joint pain might arise, have some anti-inflammatory medications packed in your carry-on, or have easily accessible in your car. Instant hot or cold packs can also be used to help relieve your joint pain.
Make sure you keep any daily medications planned out and packed so that you won’t accidentally miss a dosage and you can keep your pain at bay.
Loose fitting clothing and comfortable fabrics and help reduce stiffness and irritation when sitting for long periods of time, and can help if you are worried of swelling. If you tend to have swelling in your legs you may want to consider wearing compression garments or socks during the trip.
Wearing supportive footwear can also help reduce the chance of joint pain, especially if you will be doing extra walking during your travel.
When traveling or seeing family and friends you may have the desire to pack your days full of activities. Try to make sure you also schedule plenty of time for your body to rest, and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Consider planning activities along your trip with rest days in between to give your body a break, and look for ways you still participate without over exhausting yourself, such as the use of elevators, golf carts and wheelchairs.
While activity is often good for joint pain, maintaining a healthy balance of exercise with recovery can help you minimize increased pain with travel.