Tips To Avoid Spondylolisthesis Pain When Traveling

Spondylolisthesis and traveling

A few weekneds ago we made another trip to visit family and friends.

The trip isn’t necessarily long (about 260 miles) and it usually takes us between 4-5 hrs. The travel time usually depends on how often we need to stop for our little guy .

This certain trip our little guy slept for most of the way and for those with babies you know not to wake a sleeping baby.

So instead of stopping, we continued driving.  Normally we make 2 stops and among other things it gives me an opportunity to do a few quick stretches to relieve some of the tightness I get from sitting behind the wheel.

I do not do anything out of the ordinary when we stop, just a few standing stretches while I pump gas to get the blood flowing and relieve some of the tightness.

When I drive for prolonged periods of time I usually get extra tightness in my hip/quad region, if this goes ignored I sometimes get some pain in my low back due to my spondylolisthesis.

spondylolisthesis back pain

For those that sit throughout the day or travel frequently I am sure this problems presents itself often, so I thought it would be a good idea to outline how you can avoid sspondylolisthesis or spondylolysis setbacks when traveling.

If you think about the position you are in when you are riding in a car it is often a tight and uncomfortable spot for those with spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis.

The legs are bunched up forming a 90 degree angle at times and depending on what car you drive, the position can be worse.

There is little movement for blood flow, repositioning or stretching and this can often times lead to the nagging, uncomfortable pain that is flat out annoying.

As mentioned before I try be proactive against the spondylolisthesis pain caused by traveling long distances by stopping frequently (every 2 hours or so) and following the 3 step plan below.

Even though this may add a few more minutes to my trip, I want to make sure it DOES NOT add more pain in the following days.

If traveling long distances creates stress and discomfort in areas around your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis, try this simple approach for your next trip.

Step 1: Move often

Do not let your hips remain at that same awkward bunched up position. Remember, humans were meant to move. We are designed to stand tall and move around, not to sit in tight quarters and stay hunched over.

I try to stop every 2 hours or so and move around.  If I am in a car I also try to extend my legs every few minutes.

The moving you do does not have to be some well thought out exercise plan.

Do not overthink it, just simply move around to get the blood flowing.

I like to park a ways from the gas station or store and simply walk inside.  Try anything you can to take a few extra steps.

And by all means….DO NOT get to your destination and immediately sit for hours!

Once you arrive stand up, move around and do not be lazy.

But do not over think it. The goal is to help combat the last few hours of driving, not a lifetime of discomfort.

Step 2: When stopping, try a few simple stretches.

Again, this does not need to be some well thought out stretching plan with a certain amount of sets and reps.

I simply do what feels good and I encourage you to try the same.

Perform a few standing stretches while you pump gas or wait in line. It does not have to be millitarian with your technique. You are trying to combat the seated position caused by your vehicle, not correct your bodies overall movement.

I prefer to use the K.I.S.S method. “Keep It Simple Stupid”.

Step 3: Focus on the hips and quads the next few days.

The days after you travel it is important to maintain the quality and integrity of the muscle and tissues that are affected with traveling.

I like to focus on the hip, quad and glute area.

The days after traveling I will add a few extra quad,hip, and glute foam rolling exercises such as the one’s below in combination with some stretching.

Foam Roll Quad & Hip – Complex

Foam Roll Glute & Hip Rotators

I also like to add some additional glute strengthening exercises. My glutes tend to get very lazy after traveling. Some simple bridging exercises help to wake them up.

Again, remember the point of this article. To help prevent the spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis pain caused by traveling.

You can also read this article to find some helpful tips on ways to sit less and reduce the spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis pain caused by sitting.

This three step plan is not intended to improve how your body moves, it is simply intended to help combat the stressors that are caused by traveling long distances. So do not overthink it, do what feels good for you and your tightnesses caused by traveling.

Hopefully, with these simple pointers you will be able to better manage your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis pain during your next trip.

If you have any tips, suggestions or ideas that help you when traveling, please post them below in the comments suggestion for others to read.

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Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)


  1. venus c spalding
    4 years ago

    I sit for hours in a Jeep delivering mail. I was recently diagnosed (MRI as well as X-Ray) with Spondy after having increasing nerve pain in my left leg from my hip to my foot. Thanks for this website–and please, please, please keep focusing on this area of what to do when sitting for hours causes extreme pain. I come home and can barely move (I also drive 40 minutes to and from work!).
    Walking my dogs seems to help, but I really need something that will prevent this pain, as well as exercises that will help me deal with it perhaps when I’m in the middle of my route and beginning to hurt. The pain meds are non-effective when I’m working. Nothing seems to help.
    Thanks for any help you can offer.


    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Venus,
      Thank you for the kind words and you are right. Sitting is a hidden culprit that so many ignore. You have taken a big step in realizing the cause of your pain. Now you need to focus on correcting the results of all that sitting. I sent you and email with a link to a few of our old blog posts that may help you along the way. We will continue posting helpful information. Best of luck!


  2. rutika
    4 years ago

    i want to know more about spondylysis of neck, i am 26 yr old , i came to know i have spondylysis when i was 23,i have gape in between c4 n c5, plz guide me so,


    • Spondy
      4 years ago

      Hi Rutika,

      Most of the articles and information I provide are from my own personal battles with my spondylolisthesis. My spondy is located at the L5-S1. All of my posts and articles therefore mention or refer to the low back. However, much of the scientific definitions and information provided about spondylolisthesis are accurate for anywhere along the spine. My suggestion or advice for you would be to start with finding a doctor you trust, get a diagnosis (which it sounds like you have), then find a therapist who will provide you with some kind of full body evaluation to determine if you have any underlying issues with your movement that may be contributing to your discomfort. Since spondy’s are different from individual to individual it is important to take these steps to determine what is right for YOU. Take a look at our spondy toolbox page which lists a few full body movement screens we have had success with, then use the links we provide to find someone located near you who is certified. Best of luck!

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