I have once again just returned from an overseas adventure. This time it was a trip to India for a wedding and site-seeing tour. It has always been on my bucket list of things to do. All I can say is that India is an assault on the senses! It puts you immediately out of your comfort zone and into a whirlwind of adventure! The sites the smells the sounds are all exciting and all overwhelming! I must say I had a lot of good advice before I left as to what to expect. But until you’re actually there experiencing driving down narrow roads weaving in and out of lanes between tuk tuks, rickshaws, millions of motorcycles, cars, trucks, bicycles, people, cows, camels, dogs and the occasional elephant you really have no idea. And that was just the drive from the airport to our hotel.
Being out of one’s comfort zone can be challenging. The advice I received before I left consisted of Things like: Only drink sealed bottled water; Eat only cooked foods or fruits that you can peel; Take probiotics to help maintain good gut bacteria to help prevent diarrhea (thanks Karen for that one); take out travel insurance etc. This was all good advice as I am back with only a mild dose of jet lag. I’m feeling quite good otherwise. The things I have referenced mostly have to do with inner health. Personally I would recommend all of these things plus a few more.
However having just become certified as a Gokhale Method™ teacher with a focus on posture, I would like to address things from that point of view. When I am traveling I put my body through stresses that I normally wouldn’t encounter. Stresses that before might have lead to backaches and strains. Let’s start with luggage. You might say, “oh there are wheels for that.” But there are things like putting carry-on into the overhead lockers, maneuvering your carry-on in between very narrow aisles and getting your souvenir stuffed bags off of the carousel from baggage claim. I saw some pretty interesting postures on the last one. You may be required to sit for extended periods of time on airplanes or in a bus or car. In India you can add things like sitting on an Elephant or Camel. You may find yourself walking a lot more than usual. This may include a lot of stairs! There were more interesting things for me this trip like Squat toilets dressed in a full sari and sitting cross legged on the floor for an extended period of time because you are part of a very long Indian wedding ceremony! I may address those in another issue J
What ever it is that puts you out of your physical comfort zone, I can offer a few suggestions from my travel experience. You may find these tips handy in other similar situations in your life.
- Lifting things over your head. Remember to engage the internal abdominal muscles. I am not talking the “six pack” rectus abs. I am referring to the internal and external obliques. These are the muscles you can feel if you put your hand on your side and cough or sneeze. When you engage these muscles it helps protect the spinal discs when under stress. Also use your eyes to look up trying not to bend the neck all the way back. This protects the cervical spine. Keep the shoulders rolled back and try not to over extend the arms straining the shoulders.
- Maneuvering in tight spaces. Try to hold things close to your body in front of you if you can. Avoid twisting to pull your bag behind you. Perhaps try pushing it instead. You may try something so bold as to carry your bag on your head. That is how a porter carried my bag down 4 flights of stairs. But I recommend you leave that to the pros and only carry light objects in the beginning.
- Reaching for heavy objects. Try to avoid this if possible. However if there is no other way. Make sure you bend from the hips with a flat back and bent knees getting as close as you possible can to the object you are trying to lift. Definitely engage the inner abdominal muscles to protect your spine in this instance.
- Sitting for long periods of time. Make sure you have support behind your mid back to make sitting healthy. Avoid tucking the pelvis. Check out stretch-sitting at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9CDhcVTAdc. Also get up often to promote circulation and other health benefits. There are many articles available today on the subject. Try to get up at least 3 times per hour if you can. (I just stood up and did some stretching) If you find yourself on a bumpy road or riding a bicycle or an elephant, engaging the oblique muscles helps prevent disc damage.
- Walking & Stairs: I advise comfortable shoes with good arch support. I also recommend using the gluteal muscles to help move you forward. Squeezing the glutes helps develop great posture while walking. Plus it helps provide stability and it positions the body in a healthy alignment. Strong glutes are also preferable to a saggy backside. Stairs can become easier to maneuver if you engage the lower leg and foot muscles to push up to the next stair when going up or engage the upper leg to lower your body down to the landing foot when going down.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me. Wishing you health and happiness in your all of your adventures. Michelle Ph: 0428 223 271 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org