If you're like most people with back pain, you dread the thought of a long flight.
But sometimes plane trips are unavoidable, so here are 5 tips for flying back pain free:
1. Move around regularly
Sitting in the same position for a prolonged period puts a great deal of stress on your lumbar spine (lower back). To minimize the impact of this stress, get up to walk and stretch your back every 20 to 30 minutes.
To avoid any confusion, bring a doctor's note and alert the crew prior to boarding that you have a back condition and will need to move around. It is also helpful to make your way to the back of the plane to minimize disruptions.
2. Schedule smart
Booking a flight at a time of day when the plane is less likely to be full will make it easier for you to get up and move around regularly. Additionally, with no one sitting next to you it will be easier to move and stretch while remaining in a sitting position, and to change sitting positions as needed.
It will also be easier to retrieve your belongings from under the seat in front of you without twisting and straining your lower back.
Watch: Lower Back Strain Video
As a general rule, flights that arrive between 6 and 7 a.m., as well as 1 and 2 p.m., are likely to be less full.
3. Support your spine
Bring a back roll or ask for extra pillows to put behind your back to help minimize slouching. Over the course of several hours, this can prevent significant pressure on your lumbar spine and associated pain.
If you are on the shorter side, bring something to prop up your feet to keep your knees at a right angle. You may also want to splurge for a first-class or business-class seat.
4. Bring heat and/or cold therapy
When you first sit down in your seat, applying heat therapy can help help loosen up your muscles and minimize stiffness. After a few hours, applying cold therapy can help cool pain and inflammation provoked by excessive sitting.
To help avoid issues with security, you can bring small plastic bags to fill with ice at the airport. Additionally, you can purchase disposable heat wraps that deliver low-level heat over the course of several hours.
5. Engage your mind
It seems too simple, but specific imagery techniques can help reduce your experience of lower back pain while flying.
One simple technique you can try is mental anesthesia. All you need to do is picture an injection of numbing anesthetic (like Novocain) going into your lower back. Additionally, you can imagine a soothing and cooling ice pack being placed onto your lower back.
I hope all of the above advice will help keep your back healthy and happy on your next flight.