When you’re a plus sized adventurer, the weight of your pack isn’t the only poundage you have to think about. Additionally, and rather unfortunately, you can’t just make a split desicion to eliminate half of your body weight like you can with your packs (a dream is a wish your heart maaaakes…) Eventually, the weight takes it toll and you’re going to start to feel the pain of plus size travel.
In this post, I outline the most common physical pains of plus size travel, what to expect, as well as some quick-fix tips that can provide some relief on your next trip!
*I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training. The information in this post is provided via my own experiences and should not be used in place of a true medical opinion.*
Combating sore feet is a feat (we’re starting the puns early, folks!) for every traveler. However, there are various types of pain associated with sore feet that require different forms of relief.
- Soreness is often caused by a buildup of acid in your muscles. Massaging the affected area will relieve this build up, while also allowing the flow of fresh blood and fluids into your muscles.
- Soaking your feet can hydrate your skin and soothe your muscles to relieve pain from excessive standing or walking.
- Gentle stretching should be just that; gentle. Studies have shown that stretching doesn’t really do much in terms of pain relief for sore muscles, but some gentle stretching, like slowly pointing and flexing your feet, can help with the stiffness that often comes the following day with overworked muscles.
If you’re feeling sharp bouts of pain in your heel or arch, you might want to visit a doctor as these can be signs of plantar fasciitis or a ligament tear. If you’re unable to see a doctor on your trip, take some time to rest, seek out ibuprofen, and try a local drug store for inserts. These won’t fix the problem, but they will help ease the pain.
I can remember, on multiple occasions, my hands, feet, and ankles swelling after walking long distances. Fluid retention is what causes swelling. It’s even a theory that swelling settles in the hands, ankles, and feet because of the slight pull of gravity on our bodies.
Once you rule out injury as a cause for swelling, you can use simple remedies to reduce the size of your puffy limbs.
Ankles & Feet
- Take an hour or two off from exploring and find a way to elevate your feet above the level of your heart to ensure proper circulation. Elevation will take the pressure off your lower limbs by forcing the blood flow away from your legs and reduces the retention of fluids.
Hands & Fingers
- Having swollen, stiff hands and fingers is uncomfortable, but just as easy to relieve as swollen ankles. Try raising your hands above or at the level of your chest using pillows on a chair’s arm rest, or under your arms while you sleep. You can also alleviate swollen digits by opening and closing your hands to allow for better circulation.
Regardless of the point of retention, it’s important to drink lots of water and give yourself time to rest. If you notice swelling is a daily problem, try getting yourself a pair of compression socks or sleeves. Ultimately, If nothing seems to help and the swelling persists, make sure you speak to a doctor.
Imagine waking up one morning feeling a slight pinch in your lower back. Eventually, it turns into a stabbing pain that radiates down to your hip, knee and ankle.
CONGRATS! You have sciatica!
I struggled for two years with this before I was diagnosed with spinal arthritis and a herniated disk.
NOT GOOD FOR TRAVEL
There is no easy cure for sciatica other than surgery and pain management. But, there are ways that you can relieve some of the pain.
At night, try to avoid sleeping on your stomach. Instead, lay on your side with a pillow between your knees. You can also lay on your back with a couple pillows under your knees. Both will reduce the pressure on your lower lumbar and nerves.
When you get up, or even during the day when you’re out exploring, I’ve found that the following movements help to ease some of the pain.
- Squat all the way down. Get as low in your seat as possible and let your legs and feet support your weight.
- Let yourself rest here for a minute. Then place your hands on the floor for stability and slowly raise your butt into the air. You’ll ending up bent at the waist.
- Slowly roll up, or walk your hands up your legs to stand up.
If your pain feels more like an ache and in the middle of your back, you may need rest from shoulder tension. For relief, try adjusting your posture or locking your hands behind your back and pulling your shoulder blades together.
As always, give yourself some down time while traveling, and if serious pain continues, opt to see a doctor.
It’s the worst, really. It’s so difficult to focus on sights when your thighs feel like they’re being simultaneously burned and dipped in acid (a little dramatic, but I wanted to get the pain across to those who may be fortunate enough to avoid it.)
There is no immediate treatment other than taking your pants off and laying spread eagle on your bed. Depending on your accomadation choice, this isn’t always possible. The best way to deal with chafing is to try to prevent it.
Keep the chafe-prone areas as dry as possible with a light dusting of baby powder, especially on hot summer days. You’re also more prone to chafing when your thighs make skin-to-skin contact. Try to avoid wearing skirts and dresses when possible. If you end up wearing these items, try a thin pair of shorts or leggings underneath to create a buffer.
If you find yourself past the prevention stage, there are a few things you can do.
- Go back to basics and apply baby powder to stop the affected areas getting worse.
- Apply aloe vera to the affected areas for it’s pain relief properties and soothing effect on raw and inflamed skin.
- Soak some cloth or paper towels in cool water and lay them on the affected areas for quick pain relief.
Most importantly, make sure you take care of chafed areas by washing them gently. Use perfume and chemical free soap before patting them dry. Rough rubbing and perfumed soaps can further irritate the skin.
Listen to your body. You may want to see the world, but if you’re “out of order” you won’t be seeing much. Make sure you take the initiative to speak to your doctor and get ahead of any pain that may appear before your trip.
Remember: Be smart and take care of yourself! Everyone experiences pains when traveling, just be prepared and don’t let them ruin your adventures!
For more information about preparing for travel, check out Preparing for Travel: Plus Size Edition