Back problems that ail the businessman

For men only > Back problems that ail the businessman

Rushing from plane to plane or sitting at his desk for long hours, the businessman generally is not in the best physical shape. Take care, because back ailments can hit in many ways. In fact, 80% of men suffer from them at one time or another. All it takes is one wrong or awkward movement to suddenly wipe out meetings that were planned months in advance. We don't know why, but studies show that travel and back problems often go hand in hand.

Admit that you're not as limber as you once were and that some of your muscles aren't even sure of their purpose any more! Here are some helpful hints that you may not have considered that will make a big difference.

Ouch! Hasty movements, pulled muscles...
How many times have you run to catch a plane even though you never run - you may even take your car to buy a newspaper at the corner instead of taking a little walk for your health. So if you really have to move quickly,

walk fast, but don't run
keep your back straight, not bent forward
get luggage on wheels if you're bringing along a laptop and files.
Winded or not, you wrench your back again when you decide to hoist your bags into the overhead compartment. Disastrous! Your back muscles are put to work and if the luggage is at all heavy, they twist under the weight and prepare to make you suffer. Change your habits! Place your bag under the seat in front of you or ask an attendant for assistance.

Eek! The luggage carousel, the revolving monster
Poor you! Your briefcases have just landed on the carousel. After spending hours in complete physical inactivity, you rush to your luggage, bend your back and pull. Ouch! You have to bend your legs, not your back, even though the posture may be aesthetically questionable. You're not in a beauty contest and it's no time to risk back injuries when clients are waiting for you.

Even worse: a woman politely asks you to collect her bag - and there may be others. You are perhaps unaware how much a woman can put in her luggage. A wardrobe can be very heavy! So if you're too gentlemanly to resist her smile, please bend your knees. If the person is young and in shape, claim a bad back and ask her to help you. Then at least the weight is divided by two.

Transporting luggage
If you travel often, buy yourself some suitcases and document caddies on wheels.

If you're transporting your luggage by hand, be sure that you carry it by holding your arms along your body to prevent too much pressure on your back.

Instead of letting your ams hang, make a slight back and forth pendulum motion.

The right position
If you're not travelling in business class (and even if you are), there's nothing worse than a long journey in a bad seat. Slide a pillow or a sweater behind you in the small of your back to provide support. Rest your head on another little pillow to stay in a more upright position.

Your legs should be lower than your hips. If you're tall and your knees tend to rise up due to lack of space, always ask for a seat on the aisle or in a wider row (the first row in economy or beside the emergency exit).

Once the plane has taken off, take your hand luggage out from under your seat and use it as a rest for your outstretched feet and legs. Over very long distances, get up and move around in the aisle once in a while, even if you don't have to visit the little boy's room...

You can even do some little exercises in your seat:

  • raise a knee slightly towards your chest; hold the position for 3 seconds and bring it down again slowly; repeat with the other knee;
  • place your hands on your knees with your arms very straight; bend your arms gently outward to stretch your back; return your arms to the straight position and your back vertical.

Other little tips

If you're travelling by car, or renting a car
Take the time to adjust your seat properly so that your knees are slightly bent.

When you reserve your hotel room, ask for a bed with a firm mattress. The better the hotel, the better the mattress. Should you end up with a soft mattress, ask them to put a board underneath.

When you're in a meeting for hours with no opportunity to stand up, stretch your legs under the conference table to relieve the pressure on your back. During coffee breaks, walk around to get your blood flowing.

In hotel rooms, we often tend to open up our suitcase on the bed to pack or unpack, adding to the stress on our back. If possible, open your luggage on a higher surface, such as a luggage rack or desk.

In spite of everything, is your back still sore?
Call the front desk and ask for an ice pack. Place it on the spot where the pain is and rub gently in a circular motion. This reduces inflammation. If the hotel can't provide this service, you can ask for a bucket of ice cubes, or get some from the ice machine. Finally, soak in a warm (not hot) bath for 15 minutes to relax your muscles.

Bon Voyage!

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