Conferences and conventions are physically challenging. They entail long days of sitting, standing, and walking outside the normal range of activity that most people do on a daily basis. This is often followed by a long night of standing at networking events and more walking.
Even for the physically fit, the repetitive stress of these low impact movements can take their toll on your back. This can be especially exacerbated when events are held at extremely large venues such as the Las Vegas Convention Center, where some can walk 7 miles/day on the show floor alone.
Back pain while traveling starts at the airport as you are lifting and dragging your bag through the terminal, onto the plane, and into the overhead compartment. You then sit for several hours on the plane with limited access to get up and move. Your muscles and joints stiffen into the uncomfortable position of the plane seat and by the time you arrive at your destination, the back pain has already begun.
You then lift and drag your bag out of the airport to your hotel, where you sleep in a new bed that your body is not used to. Next is the conference where you sit for long periods of time listening to speakers with only small breaks to change sessions in between.
In addition to this, you spend hours walking and standing in an exhibit hall networking and demoing new products. Even if you are a frequent attender of conferences, this is type of activity is tough on any body. However, there are simple steps you can take to keep your back feeling its best while attending conferences.
5 tips to avoid back pain at conferences and make the most of your next event:
1. Wear Supportive Shoes to Conferences:
Wearing supportive shoes is one of the most important steps you can do to avoid back pain while standing all day at a conference. It really pays to sacrifice function for fashion in this scenario. Proper foot and arch support travels up your legs to your back to absorb shock and keep legs, hips, and backs in alignment.
"Supportive shoes will help you walk the extra mile to get around the exhibit hall."
2. Stretch At the End of the Day:
After a long day of sitting and standing in relatively static positions at a conference, it helps to loosen muscles up by giving them a stretch. Muscles contract to support your body's positions and stretching at the end of the day, even for just 5-10 minutes will lengthen them back out.
"Put a towel down on your hotel room floor and do basic stretches or yoga poses to relax your muscles."
CN Tip: If you're interested in learning more about Yoga and stretching, check out the upcoming Yoga events on ConventionNation.com!
3. Mix Up Your Conference Activities:
Try not to do one motion or activity for too long, in order to minimize back pain. This can be challenging when following an agenda at a conference. Your desire to pack in one speaker session after the next will leave you sitting for hours. However, try not to schedule too many back-to-back sessions when attending a conference. Give your body a break and walk around, and eat, drink water and stretch if necessary.
4. Sleep Off Back Pain While Attending a Conference:
It is important to get a full night's sleep while traveling to avoid back pain. Sleep is the time when your body can rest and recover. According to the National Sleep Foundation, tissue growth and repair happens during stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle. This means that the 4 hours of sleep you sneak in after a late night networking won't cut it.
"Your body needs sleep while at a conference so that fatigued muscles can continue to meet the demands of the following day."
5. Stand Up Tall to Avoid Back Pain:
Practice good posture while sitting and standing for extended periods of time at conferences. As your body gets fatigued from the demands of the events, it is easy to let it slouch. However, it is bestfor your back to keep it tall, keep it aligned, and keep it strong.
Use your core to stretch up tall and support your lower back to avoid pain. It will provide support as weaker muscles get fatigued.
Roll your shoulders back and down to avoid upper back and neck pain. These applies to both sitting and standing positions. Also, don't slouch over your computer or mobile device all day while at a conference. Look up and straighten up your back.
"In addition to the back pain support, opening up your position makes you more approachable—you may even meet someone new!"
Whether your conference is large or small, the long periods of sitting, standing, and walking will challenge your back. Practice these tips to prevent back pain while attending events. You may make it home with your back feeling 5 steps better than it ever has before!
Do you have a tip to prevent back pain that you use while attending conference? Tell us about it in th ecomments below!