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How to help back pain on long flights

Back pain is one of the most common issues after long flights and if you already have some back niggles it can be a lot worse after a long trip.

Prolonged sitting can cause back compression, stiffness and muscle spasms. Muscle contraction keeps blood flowing through the veins, so carrying out some simple exercises frequently as well as standing up and moving around as often as possible helps to minimise the risks of long-haul flights by improving blood circulation and stretching muscle groups and joints.

During my trips  I make sure I move my body as much as possible and do some exercises during that time. I am going to share some of the strategies I use to avoid body aches and pains during my flight.

Before the flight or during layovers

  1. Do some form of physical activity before going to the airport if you have a chance. Go for a walk, swim or any exercise that is part of your routine. This is important to improve blood flow and stimulate muscle activation before being in the same position for hours.

  2. While waiting at the airport, walk around and avoid sitting for longer than half an hour.

  3. Use the back of the airport seats to perform some core activation, which can help maintain a better posture and stabilise your spine –

Modified plank Hold the position for 5 breaths

Lats/hams stretch These muscles can be very tight with sitting, so a good stretch beforehand can make you feel more relaxed on the flight. Hold for 5 breaths

During the flight

  1. Get up and walk around frequently, every hour or so when you are awake :). It will help with blood flow and keep your joints lubricated.

  2. Perform some calf raises every time you get up or while waiting for the toilet. This also helps to control swelling.

  3. Find a little space at the back of the plane or close to the toilets to perform the following exercises:

Dynamic hip flexor stretch *** Pulsing up/down x 5 on each side

Lats stretch

Pec stretch

Calf stretch

Quads stretch

Glute stretch

Wall push up

While sitting

Sitting is one of the positions in which there is the greatest compression on the back. To put less strain on your back you can place a little pillow or a rolled up towel between your back and the back of the seat. This will help your back by keeping its natural curve. I actually used the little pillow they provided on the plane, it worked perfectly.

I hope those little tips help you feel a bit more comfortable on your long flights. And feel free to get in touch if you need extra help!

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