We’ve all been there, sitting on a plane on the way to some exciting adventure. We deplane, feeling a little bit off. The next morning, we wake up in an immense amount of pain from sitting or sleeping in an odd position in a cramped airplane seat. Sometimes the pain is so bad it can ruin our entire trip!
While it may seem like back, neck, hip, and knee pain is just another part of traveling, there are some ways to avoid it so you can enjoy your trip free of pain. In today’s blog, we will be discussing how you, with the help of your chiropractors, can prevent pain while traveling!
Talk To Your Doctor
If you have recently experienced an injury or had surgery, you should talk to your doctor about preventative measures you can take to avoid further injuring yourself during a flight. If your doctor has concerns, ask them for a note requesting special accommodations. In many cases, airlines will provide you with extra leg room, additional cushions, or allow you to walk around as needed, even while you’re sitting on the tarmac. Let your airline know a few weeks in advance that you might need special accommodations so they can begin preparing as necessary.
Visit Your Chiropractor Before You Leave
The best defense is a good offense, and that applies both in sports and our bodies! Regular chiropractic adjustments are a great way to keep your spine and joints in good shape, but it is especially important to start or continue this routine before traveling. While you may be busy leading up to a big trip, it is important to keep your appointments with your chiropractor to ensure nothing gets out of line before you leave.
Before you even leave for the airport, make sure you have packed light, especially when it comes to your carry-on bag or personal item such as a backpack or purse. Only take what you will need for the flight or in case of an emergency, such as medication.
Make sure you have a suitcase with wheels so you don’t have to carry it, and be careful when lifting your suitcase into or out of the car.
Take Preventative Medications
Taking an over-the-counter medication to relieve pain and inflammation during the flight can help prevent extra strain on your muscles and joints. Depending on your preferences, you can take a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or an NSAID to prevent inflammation, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin, or naproxen (Aleve).
Take this medication half an hour before you board to give them some time to kick in.
Hydration is vitally important when it comes to preventing joint and back pain. Between our bones are squishy discs that keep them cushioned. These discs are primarily made of water, so when your body is dehydrated, they are less effective at cushioning your bones. This not only causes generalized pain, but it can also increase your risk of experiencing a back injury such as a bulging disc.
Advice to “sit right” on a long flight with minimal leg room is laughable, but there are things you can do to ensure you are reducing the risk of walking off the plane and straight into a chiropractor’s office!
Sit with your legs directly in front of you and don’t cross them, as this can put a strain on one side of your body and misalign your spine. Avoid leaning to one side or the other to use the armrest. Keep your head comfortably rested against the back of the seat.
Give Yourself Support
Sitting in a good position is a great start to avoid pain on a flight, but as your chiropractors, we also recommend ensuring you support all of the right places. First, start with your feet. Your feet should be positioned so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle. If your feet do not touch the floor, use your backpack to prop them up or ask a flight attendant for some extra pillows. This is essential for preventing strain on your lower back. If your legs are long, you might need to move your backpack to the overhead compartment so you can utilize the space under the seat in front of you.
Then, support your lumbar area by placing a pillow or two behind your lower back. This will prevent slouching and keep your spine curved in the proper position. Finally, use a neck pillow to add support to your neck, especially if you will be sleeping.
Take A Stroll
It’s always a little awkward to walk around on an airplane, but if the seatbelt sign is off, take advantage of that and go for a stroll up and down the aisle. This will help to keep your muscles loose and warm. If you are concerned about “acting abnormally” on a plane, just let a flight attendant know you have back pain and need to walk around to be comfortable. At the very least, try to walk around for five minutes every hour or so.
Do Some Stretches
Believe it or not, doing stretches on a plane is certainly possible and a great way to prevent back, hip, and neck pain. In your seat, you can stretch your arms over your head. Grab your hand with the other hand and pull it in the opposite direction to get a nice stretch on your side.
You can even ask a flight attendant if you can do some stretches that require more room in the back of the plane. Bend down and touch your toes, being careful to not tip over if there is turbulence. Place one heel on the ground in front of you and lean forward to stretch the back of your leg. Gently stretch your neck from side to side.
For specific stretches that you can do, consult your chiropractor in East Stroudsburg the next time you visit Marshall’s Creek!
Finally, make sure you stay relaxed. Stressing out on a flight is a surefire way to release chemicals in your body that can cause your muscles to become tense and rigid. Make sure to find ways to relax on the plane. If you get frustrated with noises around you, make sure to bring some good earplugs or headphones. Load up your phone with some good podcasts, meditation recordings, audiobooks, or music. Make sure you have your favorite movie ready to watch on your tablet or laptop. If you want to read a book during your flight, make sure to keep your posture good and don’t hunch over it! If you are stressed out leading up to your flight, our chiropractor’s office offers relaxing massages and other pain-relieving services to get you in great shape to fly.
Schedule A Chiropractor Appointment Pre- and Post-Flight!
While you can’t always avoid a long, uncomfortable flight, you can take certain actions before, during, and after your flight to reduce the risk of experiencing back and joint pain as a result of the flight. As your chiropractors in East Stroudsburg, we would love to work with you before and after your travel experience to help prepare you for a smooth flight and help alleviate any pain that does happen to occur after your flight.
Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment with our massage therapists or chiropractors in East Stroudsburg, PA!