Stay Pain Free on the Plane

Exercises to Relieve Travel Pain

This article was written by Dr. Ally Jackson, DC.  As an avid traveler, Dr. Jackson has picked up several helpful tips for staying comfortable and pain free while flying.

Many families travel for vacations, and often these trips include long plane rides with young and sometimes restless children. Extended flights can be very uncomfortable for everyone involved, from sitting in cramped seats and overcrowded cabins to dealing with pre-flight anxiety. By staying active, hydrated, and well-rested, you can combat many common flight-related aches and pains.

Here are a few simple tips to stay active and pain-free during your travels!

Stay Hydrated

Many of us forget to drink enough water when we’re traveling, and for long flights, it can be detrimental to your health. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, weakness, and can also contribute to fatigue that can follow you even after you step off the plane. If you’re offered drinks on your flight, choose water over alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated.

Sleep Properly

For red-eye flights, make sure your sleeping posture isn’t going to leave you with a sore neck or back when you wake up. Proper sleeping position is key to restful sleep, but finding a comfortable position can be difficult when you’re in economy seating with rigid chairs that barely move. One way to avoid neck strain is to bring a small pillow with you for support. When you’re ready to start dozing off, try to keep your spine straight to avoid back pain and muscle strains.

Stay Active

It’s important to keep your body active during long flights. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also be moving to prevent blood clots.  A study by the World Health Organization found that on flights four hours or greater, approximately 1 in 4,500 airline passengers will develop a blood clot. To help combat the development of blood clots, try taking a short walk down the aisle every two hours. Doing so will improve blood flow while also combatting muscle tension and stiffness.

Below are a few more exercises you can try to keep your body moving on the plane. If you’re flying with little ones, you can also keep them entertained by encouraging them to do these exercises with you.

3 Exercises to Keep You Moving

***Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.  If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.* 

1) Ankle ABCs

  • Sit with your toes pointed out in front of you.
  • Slowly move your ankle to spell out the alphabet in capital letters with your toes.
  • Do not let your hips or knees move.
  • Complete one set and repeat the exercise with the other foot.

2) Shoulder/Neck Stretch

seated levator scapula stretch ASeated Levator Scapula Stretch B

  • Sit with your back straight.
  • Tilt and turn your head to one side.
  • Nod your head forward until a stretch is felt along the side and back of the neck.
  • Apply extra pressure (gently) with your hand to increase the stretch if needed.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

3) Glute Squeezes

  • Sit at the edge of your seat with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Flex your glutes as hard as possible to raise yourself up in your chair.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Airrosti Can Help

Hopefully, after engaging in a few exercises on your lengthy flight, you’ll be less stiff and tired, and ready to start a fabulous vacation! If you’re struggling with post-flight aches and pains and can’t seem to find relief, schedule an appointment with Airrosti today. Our expert providers will diagnose and treat your pain at the source, so you can get back to your vacation feeling 100% pain free.

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