How to Avoid a Stiff Neck and Back Pain During Your Flight: A Guest Post by Chiropractor Brent Wells
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more. Enjoy his guest post on how to avoid pain during a flight!
We all know that feeling after a long flight when you’ve got the worst crick in your neck. No matter how much you stretch and rub it, you just can’t seem to get rid of the pain. Or worse, you have a sharp pain in your lower back and feel stiff as you get off the plane. This kind of pain can really make your travels difficult and put a damper on your holiday.
Before you even take a flight, be sure you’re prepared with these pain-friendly strategies. We’ve put together nine tips to help you stay comfy.
- Stretch before, during and after your flight
Try and keep your muscles as loose and relaxed as possible. You can do some light stretching as you wait before boarding, on the plane itself and afterwards when you get off. There are plenty of “chair exercises” that can help you keep your neck and back muscles less stiff.
- Purchase a neck pillow
Neck pillows are a great accessory to bring as a carry-on. Neck pillows can support your neck as you rest or sleep during your flight. They are comfortable and can prevent you from twisting your neck or back in an unnatural position. This kind of neck support is critical if you suffer from neck pain.
- Pack light and don’t lift heavy bags
Nowadays, everybody is getting on flights with more and bigger carry-ons. Try to keep it light, so you aren’t overloaded with bags as you get on and off your flight. You can even check heavier bags to avoid putting extra pressure on your lower back. If you find you need help, be sure to ask the airline for assistance, too.
- Take breaks from sitting
Especially if you have a long flight, it’s a good idea to get up every hour or so to walk around the cabin. This will help get your blood circulation moving so that your muscles don’t tense up as much. If you suffer from back pain, try to arrange for an aisle seat so you can easily get up and down during your flight to take a little walk.
- Use self-massage
If you’re experiencing neck or back pain during your flight, you can also try giving yourself a massage. An easy way to do this is to pack a tennis ball in your carry-on and use it to massage your shoulders and between your lower back and the seat. A tennis ball is all you need to really loosen up your muscles. Many airports offer massages, and it can be tempting to get one before a flight. However, this will only help a bit at the beginning of the flight and disappear by the end of it. Instead, try getting a professional massage the evening that you land. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready!
- Try to sleep in a natural position
It can be difficult to stay comfortable during your flight. Try not to twist or contort your body as you’re looking for a good position to rest. As much as you can, sit with your seat reclined and your body aligned. Here’s where a neck pillow can really help to keep your spine straight and forward as much as possible.
- Order your favorite beverage and snack
Stay relaxed by ordering your favorite beverage and snack, so that you can enjoy the flight. Stress can be a major factor when it comes to back pain, so do whatever stress-free activities you like. Stay relaxed, watched a movie, enjoy a snack – whatever makes you feel comfortable.
- Upgrade to first class
If you’re really struggling with pain on a flight, you can also try to get upgraded to first class, where the seats are wider and more comfortable. You can do this by using your airline points, paying more or bringing a doctor’s note that explains your back condition. Find a way to get a more comfortable seat. Sometimes the investment of first class can make a huge difference to your pain.
- Stay hydrated throughout your flight
It’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight. Be sure to ask for water, or bring an empty water bottle through security to later fill with water. For a long flight, it’s important to continue to drink fluids. This will prevent your muscles from getting stiff or tense during those long hours.
For your next flight, follow these nine tips to keep your neck and back pain away. If you struggle with neck and back pain on a regular basis, you should also consider seeing a chiropractor. A chiropractic clinic can give you professional medical advice about whether you need an adjustment, as well as creating a care plan that involves massage, diet, exercise, and supplements. Don’t just cross your fingers that your pain will go away, make an appointment before your upcoming trip.
If your trip takes you to New York City, book a professional deep tissue massage in Midtown or the Financial District with a highly trained massage therapist at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy.