Travel Veterans Share Their Tips for Avoiding Aches and Pains on the Road & on the Job
Ask any rock star – life on the road can be tough. Our travel nurses, interim consultants, and locum tenens nurse practitioners and physician assistants have learned over the years how to avoid fatigue, aches, pains, and chronic issues that are common among those who have demanding jobs and move around a lot. We share them here:
ON THE MOVE
Traveling can put a kink in anyone’s neck. Invest in a neck pillow for in-flight sleeping, and take frequent breaks to move, stretch, and walk when you can (layovers, rest stops). Stay hydrated when you’re on the move by keeping a refillable water bottle with you, and try to avoid the tempting junk food readily available in airports and rest areas. Most places have fruit, nuts, cheese, and other healthy snacks available, you just might have to move a Twinkie out of the way to find them. In the end you will feel better and spare yourself the after-travel crash.
IN ONE PLACE
We get conditioned quickly, which can work against us or in our favor. If you are in the habit of exercising regularly, great! Keep it up even when in a new place. If you aren’t, a new environment can help you kick-start the habit. On the first night of the new assignment you may be tempted to put your feet up and veg with the TV for the evening. Trouble is, doing so will make you more likely to do it again the next night, and so on. Instead, check out the local opportunities for exercise like month-to-month gyms, a high school track, workout room in the building, etc. and use it.
Pack resistance bands for the event that you don’t have a workout destination option and exercise in your room. Even if you just do a short workout, you’ve established the habit of doing it, which will help you keep it up. (If you like to exercise in the morning, resist the urge to sleep in the first day.) Keeping your body strong and limber will help reduce muscle aches and pains and protect you from chronic injury.
THINK ON YOUR FEET
Healthcare jobs often involve a lot of standing. Comfortable, supportive shoes that fit well are crucial for long days (or nights!) on your feet. Take breaks when you can. Walking is easier on the feet than standing so move if you are able. If your ankles swell invest in some compression socks (also great for plane rides). Buy clothes that are easy to move in and have breathable fabric.
THE WINDOWS TO THE SOUL
Look at a screen during the day? If not, you’re the only one. Our modern technology is great for communication, but not for our eyes. Eye strain can cause fatigue, headaches, and vision problems, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. First, make sure your eye exam and prescriptions are up to date. Next take steps to reduce the strain on your eyes: take a focus break every 20 minutes or so to blink a lot and focus on something far away to let your eyes relax; improve your environment by reducing glare and avoiding fluorescent lights (if possible), and adjusting the brightness of the screen so it’s similar to the surroundings. If your smart phone is your constant traveling companion, download a blue filter app, or change your settings to ‘nightlight’ to reduce the amount of blue light you are exposed to (it can interfere with sleep and cause eye damage over time).
Taking care of yourself on the road (all the time, really) will help prevent aches and pains. And as always, THANK YOU for all you do to help those in need. We appreciate you!