Avoid Back Pain on Your Next Flight With These Simple Tips

© Marten Bjork / Unsplash
Photo of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor8 August 2018

Sitting slumped in a crudely designed, undersized seat is likely to cause backache in even the healthy-of-spine, never mind those with ongoing lumbar issues. Remember these tips next time you’re preparing for a long flight to make your journey a little more easeful.

Try posture training with an Upright GO

This award-winning wearable was created to give real-time feedback on your posture through vibrations. Use the adhesive strips provided to position the Upright GO between your shoulder blades, and get a gentle alert when you’re unconsciously slouching. Over time the muscles of your back strengthen and sitting in an upright position becomes second nature, so ideally you should start training with the gadget a couple of weeks prior to departure.

Don’t leave home without pillows

Airlines place a small pillow on your seat on most overnight or long haul flights. Use this one to compensate for the lack of built-in lumbar support and place it behind the lower curve of your spine. Then make sure you invest in a good memory foam neck pillow to hold your head in a comfortable position for the duration of your flight.

Pack a tennis ball and use it for targeted self-massage to ease muscular pain | © Kay / Unsplash

Pack a tennis ball in your carry-on

The shape, size and density of a tennis ball make it the perfect inflight massaging tool. Place one between your back and the seat and carefully roll it over the muscles that support your spine. By methodically kneading knots as they develop you’ll feel a lot more comfortable as the journey progresses.

Remember to stretch

The design of a plane seat encourages a C-shaped spine and shoulders that round forward, curving the upper back. After a few hours this unnatural position is going to make you uncomfortable and antsy. Counteract it by sitting up tall in your seat and arching the spine. Draw your shoulder blades together and let the chest become broader as you take your arms behind your back and clasp opposite elbows. Spend a few breaths like this, then release your hands and take a gentle twist to the right and left to reset the spine, using the armrest for extra traction. Repeat this stretch every 30 minutes, or whenever things start to feel tight.

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