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Keeping Travel From Being A Pain In The Neck

Aug 18, 2007
Philosophers like to say that it's not arriving at the destination but the trip you take to get there that is the joy of the experience. Philosophers have clearly never spent 3 hours carrying a laptop and carry-on bag in the airport and 2 hours cramped in a seat next to someone who snores.

Traveling may be good for the psyche but it's hard on the body, particularly the neck where both muscle strain and stress add up to a stiff painful throb. Fortunately for the traveling philosopher in all of us there are many neck aids that can help sooth the rough spots of our trip.

U Shaped Pillows

Once a plane takes off and you can't see the world in miniature form as you climb to an elevation past the clouds, there is nothing nicer to do that sleep or relax on a flight. However, when you get to sleep your conscious mind shuts off and the thing in your brain that regulates your head posture shuts off with it. Heads bob, dip and usually lean to the side causing a strain on the neck.

Several outlets, the most accessible of which is Brookstone with a store in almost every major airport, offer U shaped pillows. With a U in the center, this pillow rests on the shoulders and behind the neck for support and comfort. It is about 2 inches thick in the neck and head can rest upon it and offer light support.

A Clinical Approach

The only limitation to the U shaped pillow is it's small size. It was made to be convenient and pretty on trips as well as functional. However for people with long necks or who need more support than the pillow offers strain can still occur. A solution marketed by Magellan's is the Komfort Kollar, an inflatable version of a cervical collar designed by an orthopedic surgeon for air travelers.

Once inflated, the collar fits all the way around the neck and clasps in the front with a Velcro strap. It supports the neck and spine from every direction. It's not an attractive device, but it will give your body full support and comfort as you rest. Because its job is to limit range of motion, you cannot use this while driving.

In The Car

Whether on a long drive or going home in your car from the airport, many stores have encouraged drivers to get massage mats for the driver's seat. These electronic mats send pulses or vibrations throughout the mat giving the driver a massage sensation that helps relieve stress and loosen up stiff muscles.

That way when you get out of the car and walk through the front door you won't have a snarl on your face as you greet your family. For the less high tech traveler, mats with round wooden beads attached the chair offer the same massaging quality and gently kneed the muscles with the movement of the car.

For work or play, travel is a part of everyone's life to some extent. Comfortable travel leads to a happier traveler. Then, maybe the journey does become the good part of the day.
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