How to deal with back pain during air travel

For some, air travel is an exhilarating experience that unlocks corridors to adventure and lifelong memories; for others, it’s a necessity for business. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, the prevailing theme for those with back pain is anything but excitement.

Instead, the prospect of flying is daunting. The seats are cramped and can contribute to preexisting back pain. The prolonged process of getting from point A to point B can be grueling.

If you dread air travel or avoid it at all costs due to your back pain, we have good news—there are steps you can take to alleviate back pain during flight. When you are able to manage your pain during air travel, a whole new world of comfort and adventure will be opened to you!

Preparation is Paramount

When making travel plans, you do just that—plan. From arranging dates to organizing your luggage, time and effort go into each phase of your preparation. Why should the health of your back be any different?

If you have documented back problems, some airlines will make accommodations for you if you alert them ahead of time. Others may do so if you have word from your doctor, so be sure to contact both the airline and your physician early.

You can also try to schedule your flight when fewer people may be flying, limit your layover time, and take care to select a seat that gives you enough room to stretch and sit comfortably!

Don’t Neglect to Stretch

Speaking of stretching, you can utilize your downtime—whether it’s before you board, while you wait for your connection, or even on the plane—to be a little active and perform some simple stretches. This will help prepare you for extended periods of sitting and help you decompress afterward.

If you’re looking for easy stretches to do, consider doing light rotations or twists, side bends, seated figure fours, and lumbar extensions. If you’re unsure how to safely conduct these and other stretches, feel free to reach out to your physician for guidance!

Proper Posture is a Must

Infamous for being too tight and extremely uncomfortable, airplane seats notoriously force you into poor posture. For the average person, this can be inconvenient and lead to temporary pain. For those with back pain, it can be a tremendous physical setback.

Maintaining proper posture can help prevent the inflammation of your back pain both in the moment and after the flight. The good news is if you require pillows or blankets to achieve proper posture in the cramped space, most airlines will accommodate that need, especially if you contacted them ahead of time.

Talk to Your Doctor

When in doubt, it is best to consult your doctor. They can expound upon the topics mentioned above and provide you with even more air travel tips and tricks. Even better, they can personalize their advice to your unique health issues, travel plans, and more.

Protecting your back and preventing pain is key to not only getting through your flight but also enjoying your travels. Whether you have to fly for work or are choosing to for personal happiness, don’t let your back pain hold you back!


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