For many, Memorial Day weekend -- and the summer weekends that follow -- is synonymous with travel. But all too often, arrival at your final destination is accompanied with aches, pains and unwanted jet lag, leaving some travelers wishing they had stayed home. It doesn't have to be that way. Looking to combat the discomfort of long hours of traveling, countless people turn to acupuncture and Traditional Asian Medicine to help them arrive feeling refreshed and ready for vacation.
1. Acupuncture for Aches and Pains: One of the most common complaints of frequent flyers and other travelers is low back pain -- and it's not surprising. Sitting in a tight space that lacks proper neck and lumbar support can lead to discomfort after only a matter of hours. The National Institutes of Health recommends acupuncture as a treatment option for neck and back pain. An acupuncturist's pain management treatment will involve a comprehensive approach including acupuncture, Tui Na (acupressure, manipulation), and application of soothing essential oils and herbs. Bonus: Acupuncture can also help boost your immune system to help you stay healthy on your trip.
2. Rest and De-Stress with Herbs: If you're on a long-haul flight that is crossing time zones, jetlag can be another unwanted side effect upon arrival. Herbal supplements may help you ditch the drowsiness without risk of dependency. Formulas such as Jia Wei Shao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer) and Tian Wang Bu Xiang Dan (Celestial Emperor Pill) are two of the many safe and effective Chinese herbal formulas to help you relax and sleep naturally. Tagar or Indian valerian can act like melatonin to help you rest your body and mind. To help you stay hydrated during the trip, ditch the alcohol for some refreshing Chrysanthemum tea, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce headaches. Chewing on some fennel seeds after meals can help you digest all those exotic foods you'll be enjoying.
3. Tai Chi and Yoga: Skip your morning run or high-impact boot camp before and after your travel days, opting instead for Tai Chi Chuan, the ancient Chinese martial art that combines soft, gentle movements with diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation. Tai Chi Chuan has been practiced for thousands of years in China to improve health and well-being, and recent research has confirmed that it can improve mood, decrease blood pressure, improve heart function, reduce pain, relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, and improve balance. During travel, whether in flight, on a train or at a quick rest stop, simple yoga asanas such as toe touching followed by upward reaching and pulling your knees to your chest can relieve stiffness. The goal is to get up and about often and to keep moving.
4. Reset Your Body Clock: If you are crossing time zones, set your watch or phone to your destination's time before you depart. Try to keep your meals small and eat them at the same time you normally would while at your destination to help adjust your circadian rhythm and alleviate jet lag. Still feeling groggy? Acupuncture can also help reset your body's sleep cycle and circadian rhythm after you arrive.
5. Eat Well, Be Well: Vacations and getaways can be fun times, but they can also be times when you are tempted to indulge and overeat. Do your digestive system -- and your waistline -- a favor and try sticking to an Eastern diet consisting mainly of cooked vegetables and some lean meats. If you travel to an exotic locale, always remember to "boil it, cook it, peel it, wash it, or forget it!"
Whether you're heading across the ocean or a few hours down the road, follow these simple steps and you can rest assured that you'll arrive feeling your best and ready to tackle anything vacation throws at you.