If you suffer from back pain, you will know that one of the things, almost guaranteed to worsen the symptoms, is to have to sit for long periods. This is especially true on a trip abroad that involves long hours in an uncomfortable aircraft seat, not designed with back care in mind.
Winchester Chiropractor Max Atkinson has put together 8 top tips for preventing and managing back pain on a long flight so that rather than arriving at your holiday destination, hardly able to move, you can arrive with a spring in your step instead!
- Schedule a maintenance appointment with your Chiropractor. Even if you feel fine, getting a maintenance check will help to ensure that everything is in balance. Gentle Chiropractic adjustments can correct any biomechanical problems, if needed. Max will also be happy to give advice on exercises and stretches you can do at home to get your back and core muscles in the best shape possible. This will help avoid the likelihood of painful muscle spasms during a long flight in a cramped airline seat. Please call to arrange an appointment on 01962 861188
- When booking your trip, if you need to change planes, arranging your flights to minimize the total time spent travelling will help prevent back problems. Booking a seat with more room such as in Business Class will give you more room while sitting and reclining, but in economy, choose an aisle or exit row seat to maximise the legroom you have.
- Take only the essentials in your carry-on luggage. The last thing you want to do is to strain back muscles by lifting a heavy bag into the overhead compartment. If you feel the bag is too heavy for you stow away comfortably, a flight attendant will help you.
- If you are taking medications for your back, make sure you continue to take these on time before, during and after your flight. If you have recently had an injury or surgery, be sure that your Physician gives the okay for you to travel.
- Choose clothing for your journey with care; avoid anything heavy, constricting or restrictive (for example, tight waistbands).
- It is very important to drink plenty of water (rather than coffee, soft drinks or alcohol), in the days leading up to your flight as well as during the flight itself to ensure your body is properly hydrated.
- Choose good, travel pillows for neck support and for your lower back. Using a small pillow between your lumbar spine and the back of the aircraft seat will help to maintain a natural lumbar curve and put the least stress on the vertebral discs while the seat is in the upright position. A supportive neck pillow that moulds to the shape of your neck will be particularly useful if you ‘doze off’ as it will support your head comfortably, even if the seat is not reclined. Sitting with knees at right angles to the hips also takes the strain off the lower back, so, if you are of short stature, you may also need a footrest.
- Try to get out of your seat and move around for five minutes or so every hour. If there is spare space at the back of the aircraft, you could use this to do some gentle moves that stretch your shoulders and upper back, some gentle bends for your lower back and some knee raises for your buttock muscles. If you are stuck in your seat for longer than an hour, there are some stretches you can do while seated – be aware of the person seated next to you though! Max can show you a few simple exercises that you can do, both during the trip and once you get to your destination, as it is just as important to keep moving once you arrive after a long journey.
Preventing and managing your back pain, particularly on a long flight is vital, so try these 8 simple tips – the last thing you want on an eagerly anticipated holiday, is to arrive feeling stiff, or suffering pain from your back or neck that could be avoided.