Yes, I know you’re curious. It’s something that affects us all no matter if you are the healthiest person on the planet or not. The seats on an airplane are designed in such a way that causes your shoulders to collapse forward and your spine to round, causing slouching…and later aches. I was able to pick the brain of my chiropractor and here are several tips on how to combat that.
See Your Chiropractor! In reality this should be the first thing you do. If you’re experiencing any back discomfort it’s a good idea to get it checked. A good, reputable Chiropractor will take x-rays of your spine before they adjust you. Reason? They need to see internally what’s going on with your spine. Your spine is the foundation of your body and seeing a Chiropractor is just as important, if not more, as seeing any of your other doctors. It’s not a luxury…it’s a necessity.
Get some lumbar support. Make sure that you bring along a pillow or some form of lumbar support that will help keep you from slouching. Slouching puts a lot of strain on your lower spine and can be the primary source of your discomfort. Using a lumbar support can help to minimize that discomfort.
Here’s one from Amazon for around $14. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/
Drink Plenty of Water. We all know that drinking water is great for you. It can stave off hunger, keep you alert, flush out toxins and keep your skin from drying out. Your spine is composed of vertebrae and disks. Through out the day the disks between each vertebrae compress and loose fluid. Drinking water helps to replenish that lost fluid. So drink as much as you can!
Get up and walk. As soon as the seat belt sign is off get up and walk, even if it is to the bathroom. (And if you’re drinking enough water you’ll have an automatic prompt!) Allowing your spine to lengthen and decompress will prevent aches and pain in your lower back. Try to do this several times during your flight. For longer flights try to get in at least 10 minutes of standing every hour.
Do Yoga! Or keep to your workout routine. Even better do both. Core specific exercises will help to strengthen your back therefore allowing you to better endure longer periods of sitting and inactivity.
Stretch. Along with getting up and moving around make sure that you have the opportunity to stretch. All you have to do is get up, hinge at your hips and grab opposite elbows. Hang here for 10-15 seconds and you will feel your back begin to relax and release.
Pack light. This might be common sense for some and may not be for others. Extra weight being carried on your body almost always translates down your spine to your lower back. If you wear a backpack, try to keep the heavier pieces closer to your center back and pressed firmly against your back. Whenever you are holding an object, of any weight, any distance away from your body, gravity will increase its hold on it. Then your once 2 pound laptop will now feel like it weighs 15 pounds! Also, try not to carry any unnecessary weight. This will also allow you to really look at everything you’re bringing and determine if you really need to carry those “just in case” items.
Back pain does not have to be something you live with. Make it a priority to keep your spine healthy. Doing these simple things not only when you travel but at home will help to keep your spine and body in good shape for when you eventually compact it into your favorite form of transportation, ie. an airplane seat or a car seat…any cramped seat really. Until next time.