With the holiday season upon us many of you may be thinking, or may have already booked to go away. For many this may involve travelling on a plane. Unfortunately the commute from home to your destination is often the most dreaded part of the experience, especially if you are suffering from acute or chronic neck or back pain. Here are 8 tips on helping to reduce the pain whilst travelling and making the experience far more bearable.
1. Move Around During the Flight
Moving around approximately every 30 minutes will help to decrease the compressive forces through the spine and help to prevent muscles from going into spasm. Getting up from your seat and simply walking around for 5- 10 minutes will help alleviate any strains which may have occurred in the neck or the back whilst being in a seated position.
2. Strategically Schedule Your Flights
Booking a flight where there may be more stopovers or at an undesired time may guarantee more seats vacant, which will allow you to be able to stretch out or lie down. Making contact with the airline prior to departure may allow them to allocate you in a row where there are more seats available.
3. Pack Back & Neck Support
Make sure to pack postural cushions or pillows depending on the location of your pain. These will help aid your posture and decrease the pressure on either the neck or the low back, making your experience of flying far less painful.
Always make sure you are aware of your posture whilst being seated. This is imperative if you are suffering from neck pain. Any exaggerated side bending or rotation through the neck for a long period of time can put pressure through the spine making your original pain worse.
5. Use Hot & Cold Therapy
This is a simple and effective way of reducing inflammation and pain in the neck and the back whilst flying. Make sure to stock up on “click n heat” heat packs (or any other alternative) and take a zip lock bag on board. Ask the flight attendant to fill the bag up with ice. Use the portable heat pack and the ice interchanging every 5 minutes for 30 mins.
6. Taking Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
The use of NSAID’s (eg nurofen/voltaren rapid) or analgesics (Panadol) may assist in providing short term relief, in the event that sitting for long periods mid-flight may exacerbate back pain symptoms. (If you are unsure as to what to take, please consult with your pharmacist or primary health care provider.)
7. Pack a Light Carry-On Luggage Bag with Wheels
Making sure to pack a light carry-on luggage bag will make it far easier when having to store it in the overhead compartment. In saying this, ask for the assistance of the flight attendant to lift the bag. The extension motion of lifting the bag may aggravate any neck or back pain that is present. A bag with wheels is also of benefit, this will prevent you from having to lift and carry the bag around the airport.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water at all times during the flight will not only help keep you hydrated, it will also help with removal of toxins and inflammatory mediators which may build up in the body during the course of flight.
-Dr Connie Petousis
How can your Osteopath help?
Make sure to check in with your Osteopath before you head off – they may help prepare you for your trip by:
- Providing individualised treatment for your particular needs, ensuring any areas of concern are worked on; and
- Providing instruction on specific stretches or exercises to do before, during and after travel.