- Book an aisle seat so that you can remain mobile- our bodies love regular movement, so simply standing up and walking regularly every 2 hours throughout a flight can help prevent back pain, swelling and DVT. An aisle seat makes it alot easier to stand up and move!
- Sit well- keep the hip and pelvis wide and to the back of the seat and elevate your hips by sitting on your inflight small cushion if you can. Alternatively try using a small pillow behind the lower back for support.
- Care for your neck– If reading- lift your device or magazine to eye level or at least use the tray table to keep your neck and back relatively straight.
- Don’t cross your legs! It is bad for circulation and creates an uneven pelvis.
- Keep hydrated. Drink more water (not alcohol- gasp!) regularly throughout the flight. This has the benefit of minimising dehydration in dry air, headaches and also has the added benefit of ensuring you get up regularly to the bathroom! Drink 6-8 glasses of water in the 24 hours after the flight.
- Pack light and check in bags! It can be tempting to book carry on luggage for flights to minimise costs and airport wait times – however this can result in lifting larger bags into over head lockers which can overload necks, shoulders and lower backs. Try simply booking checked luggage in and minimise your hand luggage. Reduce your check in luggage weight by packing well in advance, then removing 30% of your packed clothes! Last minute packing is never organised and you always end up packing more than what you need to carry. (Plus the extra space in your bag means you can go shopping whilst away!)
- Care with lifting! Take care when lifting bags especially after a long haul flight when your lower back is stiff and more vulnerable. Remember gently lift your pelvic floor and deep abdominals before and during lifting- like to know how to switch on your core muscles correctly? Watch this essential video here! Before lifting get close to the bag and bend from the hips and knees! Place all bags on wheels/trolleys between flights to reduce your lifting load. Do not lift and twist at the same time which is a common way of straining a lower back disc. Like to know more about lumbar disc care? Read more here.
Try these simple in flight exercises!
- Calf pumps and foot circles- circle the feet and flex and point the feet. Perform these 10 times each hour.
- Stretch arms over head with a deep breath. Now stretch arm to one side and then the other side. Sit tall with one hand on the opposite knee. Gently twist to one side, then the other. Take hands behind head. Allow the elbows to stretch away from each other while taking deep breaths. Watch this short seated stretch video here!
- Back extension: Place hands in the lower back & gently arch backwards
- Calf stretch: Step one leg behind and soften front knee to gain a stretch of the back calf. Use a wall for balance if needed.
- Wall stretch: Face a wall and place both hands on the wall just above your head height with elbows straight. Take a step back and soften the knees, stick your hips out and stretch your chest through like a yoga downward dog pose against the wall to open the shoulders. If pain allows, take one hand down the wall and turn the body to one side so you are looking under your arm. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Thigh stretch: Use the wall for balance and grab the foot behind you. Now sink the hips forward for a deeper stretch to the front of the thigh. You can also perform this in a lunging position. Step forward, tuck the tail under and bend the front knee slightly.
Our team here at Synergy Physio offer expert knowledge and care for lower back, spinal, hip and pelvic pain. We look forward to helping you understand your pain and what to do about it! Recover from your pain and get back to doing the things you love.
Like to know more about back pain? Click here!