Managing back pain during a long flight

There are a lot of ways that a flight can be an absolutely miserable experience. The fear that you’ll end up next to a crying baby or a sick person is one thing, but what your main source of discomfort actually comes from you? That’s right, even if you invest in top-of-the-line first class seats, there is still the chance for a flare up of your persistent and troublesome back pain during a long flight. So, what do you do when you feel that familiar ache at the base of your spine?

If you think about your flight like a marathon, then you will realize that a lot of same age-old tips for athletes can also help frequent flyers with back pain. Here are some of the biggest ways to prevent and manage back pain during a long flight:

Treat Your Flight Like a Marathon

1.The Warm Up

One step that athletic trainers and coaches will always stress is the extreme importance of stretching. Sure, being in a confined space thousands of feet above the ground isn’t exactly the same as an exhausting foot race, but there is one key similarity here: endurance. If you’re a frequent flyer or road-tripper, then you are no stranger to that stiff discomfort that tends to set in after a few hours of sitting still. Since our muscles are made for movement, being motionless for prolonged periods of time can put uncomfortable pressure on our backs. Before a flight, take a moment to do stretches and move around in ways that help to alleviate your back pain, even temporarily. When you’re in the air, there are even stretches that you can do while in your seat that can help ease the tension in your back.


2. Eat the Right Stuff!

For those who get car sick or nauseous at the idea of flying, avoiding heavy foods should definitely be on the agenda. Bad eating habits can trigger midflight stomach pain, which can trigger headaches, which can increase back pain, and this horrible cycle can make any flight seem far longer than it actually is(don’t forget about the crying babies added to the mix). Even if you don’t plan on drastic dietary changes, it’s generally a good idea to eat lighter just before the plane ride. Also, drink plenty of water! No athlete goes into a race dehydrated-and neither should you!


3. Stock Up On Meds

Don’t underestimate the importance of over-the-counter pain medication in dealing with back pain. If your back pain is consistently troublesome and requires a prescription, be sure to have any and all necessary medication handy when boarding your plane. Of course, be sure to carry all meds in a clear bag in order to comply with the airline policies. Herbal remedies and creams can also be useful. Ointments from plant-based extracts, such as comfrey root(note that this particular root can be toxic if taken/applied for more than 10 consecutive days), have been proven to contribute greatly to pain management. According to 2000 study, vitamin B12 can also decrease back pain. This vitamin is found naturally in animal-based foods, so if your diet allows, be sure to consume preflight protein. You can also find B-12 capsules at any pharmacy or grocery store.  For any medications not prescribed, be sure to do the proper research and consult with a health professional before using any of these remedies on a regular basis.


4. Get the Right Equipment

Just like a runner wouldn’t enter a race without a good pair of shoes, you don’t want to enter a flight without the proper comfort equipment! When traveling, excluding business trips or other formal events, you want to be dressed as comfortably as possible. In addition to that, it’s also a great idea to invest in a specialty pillow for the lumbar spinal region. Methods of hot and cold therapy, such as ice packs, warm compresses, and menthol-based topicals such as Icy Hot can also be very effective in managing back pain before and after(and possibly during) your flight.


5. Don’t Push Yourself Too Far

The fast-paced nature of life makes it hard for us to sit down sometimes. Regularly allowing yourself time to de-stress can make the peacefulness of the flight feel a little less foreign. When packing carry-on bags, lighter is always better. If you do end up packing a bag with a little more weight, don’t be afraid to ask a flight attendant for help when do any overhead compartment lifting. Another important note for your packing phase: be sure to pick up heavy objects using the proper technique to avoid straining or possibly hurting your back.


6. Have the Right State of Mind

Previous bad experiences and fear of pain can often put a damper on the excitement of traveling. After you prepare with some of the above tips, also make sure to bring a few of your favorite snacks, some music and a good book to ensure that you feel relaxed for the duration of your flight. By the end of the flight, you’ll feel as good as if you’d just won your first marathon!


All of these methods can offer temporary relief, but the best advice when dealing with backpain is to visit specialists who are experts in the back pain field. Here at Kelly Chiropractic, we know back pain, and we can help you manage it so that every flight is a great flight!(we can’t guarantee a lack of crying babies though) If you find yourself suffering from back, joint, or any kind of chronic pain, give us a call and we’ll be happy to schedule a consultation. Don’t just take our word for it, our reviews speak for themselves! Make every day the best it can be, make every day pain free with Kelly Chiropractic.


Kelly Chiropractic 9390 Ford Ave Suite #2
Richmond Hill, GA 31324
(912) 756-8080