Nobody likes long-haul flights. They can be stuffy, boring, and downright painful for some. Many people suffer from back pain after long hours of being cramped in a small seat in the air, unable to have a real walk around and stretch. Even those who have never suffered from back problems can begin to experience the agony whilst on a long flight. If you are headed on a long-haul flight soon, here are some top tips to minimize any back pain or discomfort during and after your flight, so you can enjoy your vacation or business trip.
This is one of the most important rules for a flight, whether you do experience back pain or not. This also means keeping on top of your water intake for several days before your flight is scheduled. Cabin air is extremely dry and if your body becomes dehydrated, you will be more likely to suffer from joint stiffness, making any back pains worse. If your spinal discs become dehydrated, you are more at risk of a tear as these discs become more vulnerable. Drink plenty of water throughout the flight, which in turn will also keep you moving to and from the bathroom. For those with back pain, this is a win-win situation.
See a Chiropractor
A chiropractor can help you with a myriad of back pain problems. If you are likely to suffer with it when you are on the flight, or you already do suffer from back pain, seeing a chiropractor is beneficial before and after your trip. Chiropractors can aid in re-aligning your musculoskeletal structure, in particular, the spine. They use their hands to do so. If you have never seen a chiropractor before, here is what you can expect from chiropractic appointments and how to book one.
When you can or feel like you need to, get up and move around. Whether this is to the toilet or just for a quick walk up and down the aisle, the more you move the better. As a rule, you should be moving out of your seat hourly. When you do stand, try to bend yourself back and forwards and stretch out your upper back and shoulder muscles. Even when seated, you can stretch and point your toes to work your calf muscles and bringing your knees up to stretch the buttock muscles. This significantly reduces the risk of a blood clot and can prevent any of your muscles going into spasm.
Sitting is actually one of the most strenuous positions for our back as it adds extra stress to the spinal discs. You should take a pillow on board and rest it on your lumbar region, which is the region at your lower back. Rest this between the seat to reduce the risk of you slouching and to retain the back’s natural curve. A neck support pillow is also a good idea, especially if you plan to sleep for any period during the flight. Keeping your knees bent in a right angle also reduces stress on the back.
Keep Medications in Your Hand Luggage
If you know you suffer from back problems on a flight, keep pain medications with you. If you are going to do so, ensure that you do not consume any alcohol before or during the flight, as this will hinder how much affect your medication has. Some medications are not permitted to be taken with alcohol at all. Taking ibuprofen before the flight can aid with the reduction of inflammation and pain. Although it seems odd taking medication before you are in pain, this ensures that you are on top of your pain before it begins. If you need stronger medication, speak to your doctor or pharmacy. Make sure you take only what is stated on the packet, as stronger painkillers can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Don’t Pack Too Heavy
If you have a suitcase with wheels, this is great. If not, you need to pack light enough that you will not cause extra strain on your back, neck or shoulder muscles. If you do suffer from back pain that is severe, ensure your travel partner can lift your suitcase on and off the baggage areas, or ask a member of the airline crew for assistance. Your hand luggage should also be as light as possible to avoid you damaging your back when putting this in the overhead locker of the plane during the flight.
Exercising regularly works the body’s muscles meaning there is less chance of straining your back when you are traveling. There are many benefits of exercising regularly but doing so a week or two before your flight guarantees that those muscles have had time to work. For those who have been inactive from exercise for a long period of time, your back muscles are at a much higher chance of going into spasm whilst you are sitting in your small airplane seat. Stretching before and after exercise is also extremely important to reduce any muscle pain, especially in the weeks leading to your flight.
Ask for a Doctor’s Note
If you have an ongoing medical problem which causes back pain, or you have recently had any form of spinal surgery, try to get a doctor to write you a note to give to the airline. Letting them know in advance may ensure you have a larger seat and more leg room. Many airlines try their best to accommodate customers with medical needs, so if they can they will be happy to help. If you know that a standard seat will not be comfortable enough, perhaps consider saving up a little extra for a business-class seat. It may be worth paying the extra money than having your vacation ruined by back pain.
Flying long distances can be a nightmare, especially if you do suffer from back pain. Whatever the cause of your pain, these tips can help to get you through the flight in as little pain as possible.