Reduce Your Risk Of Back Pain When Travelling
An amazing one billion people (out of 6 billion in the world) flew by airplane last year. And out of those 1 billion people, 300 million flew to completely different countries. We are travelling more, and further, than ever in human history. The world is simply becoming much more accessible, and as travel becomes an ever-increasing part of our lives, it is also increasing the amount of stress and strain on our spines that is associated with long hours of sitting, different beds, and handling heavy luggage.
Travel places stress on the spine for various reasons. These include uncomfortable seats, sitting in small, cramped positions for long periods of time, carrying heavy suitcases and sleeping in foreign beds with strange pillows. Since recent publicity has highlighted the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), airlines are now encouraging passengers to do gentle mobility exercises to reduce the risk. This is excellent, well meaning advice for when you are flying, however, other precautions can also be employed to help ease the stress on our bodies associated with air travel.
Here are 7 easy to follow tips that will reduce your risk of back pain when travelling:
Plan your flights. For long intercontinental flights, try and pick an evening departure time. You will already be quite tired and have a better chance of a good long sleep, making it a ‘shorter’ trip. Once you reach your destination, immediately switch to local time and stay awake until normal bedtime. You will be really tired and get a good night sleep. This will ease jet lag.
Book ahead. Seats are very cramped in economy class, especially if you are tall. So a few days before travel try to organise an exit row seat. (Good Luck!). Otherwise try to get an aisle seat on long flights, as it is easier to get up when you want (especially to go to the toilet) and to move around freely.
Maintain good spine support. Older planes tend to be worst offenders for unsupportive seats. This can be helped by placing an airline pillow in the sway of your lower back, around your belt line, providing extra support for your lumbar curve. Modern planes fortunately have folding headrest supports that are built into the seat. These provide good support for the neck and should be utilised whether you are sleeping or not. If they are not provided, travel pillows provide excellent neck support for sleeping when travelling.
Move around. With individual in flight entertainment systems, passengers tend to sit and watch them for longer periods, further reducing movement. Make sure you get up, stretch and move around the plane frequently (but not when the seat belt sign is illuminated!)
Keep hydrated. Drinking extra water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and the use of a skin moisturiser will all help to make you feel better during and after your flight.
Avoid wearing tight shoes and socks. Your legs swell during flights due to the pressurisation of the airplane cabin. Tight shoes or socks can restrict blood flow returning to the heart. However the use of approved compression stockings can be very beneficial in promoting good blood flow and lowering the risk of DVT, particularly on longer flights.
Take care when lifting. Be careful when lifting luggage off the baggage carousel, particularly after long flights when your back might not be ‘warmed up’. Where possible, use luggage with wheels.
Travel, particularly long flights, can be very tedious and exhausting. Most of us just sit and wait it out, without giving due consideration to their backs and bodies. Take on board (pun intended!) these 7 simple tricks to reduce the amount of stress and strain on your spine during your time in transit. They will help you to arrive feeling a bit more like you are ready to hit the ground running!
If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.
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