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Travel Often?: How to Survive a Long Flight Pain Free

Travel Often?: How to Survive a Long Flight Pain Free

Traveling long distances for vacations is common this time of year.  Here are 4 quick tips you’ll need to survive the long airplane flight pain free!

1. Protect the Neck

We all know that it’s fairly difficult to find a comfortable position on the plane flying for several hours. A travel neck pillow may just help ease the discomfort as it keeps your neck in a neutral position allowing you avoiding waking up with a stiff neck. If you do wake up with a sore neck, here are some helpful stretches to alleviate the stiffness.

Upper Trap Stretch

Tilt your right ear towards your right shoulder and hold for 1 minute. Return to a neutral posture and repeat on the left side.

head tilt left

Levator Scap Stretch

Turn your head so that your nose is facing your armpit. Hold for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite side.

armpit stretch

2. Save the Back

Many seats don’t provide adequate back support, and sitting for a long period is a recipe for low back pain and an uncomfortable flight. Prevent this by giving yourself some support to the lumbar spine. Use a small pillow, or roll up a towel and place this along the small of your back. This will allow for improved sitting posture and decreased stress to the back.

Poor sitting technique  IMG_2112  IMG_2109


3. Take frequent breaks to prevent blood clots

Our bodies are not designed to remain static for long periods of time. Prolonged sitting can lead to stiff muscles and stagnant blood into our legs and may lead to a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you are at risk for developing clots, compression garments are encouraged. It is also recommended to get up every hour or so to stretch and help recirculate the blood.

Heel/Toe Raises

Place your feet flat on the floor, and then raise your toes toward you followed by raising your heels off the floor.

Heel Raises IMG_2892 IMG_2893

Leg Raises

If you have room in front of you, raise one foot off the floor and straighten your knee. Slowly return your foot off the floor and alternate movements with your other leg

Leg Rises IMG_2899 IMG_2898

4. Keep hydrated

In an aircraft cabin, the humidity decreases to about 20% which may lead to dry eyes, sore/dry throat, and dehydration. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated especially while on long flights to combat these effects.

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Sherwin De Guzman PT, DPT, OCS
In his spare time, Sherwin enjoys spending time with his family and friends watching movies, exploring new places to eat, and enjoying Southern California. He enjoys keeping himself active, spending time outdoors, working out, swimming, snowboarding, and rooting for the UCLA Bruins!