Summer is finally here! It is time to pack your sunscreen and head to the beach. A recent AAA Travel survey found that nearly 100 million Americans are planning to take a family vacation in 2019. Nearly everyone enjoys going on vacation, but flying can be both uncomfortable and exhausting. Whether you are prone to back pain or not, the small seats of an airplane are probably not your favorite place to sit for long periods of time. Thankfully, there are a few tips you can follow to avoid suffering from an achy back once you arrive in paradise.
Avoiding back pain while traveling starts before you even leave the house. Staying active and strengthening your core muscles can help prepare your body for the long trip ahead. If exercise isn’t a part of your normal routine, try to incorporate some light stretching or yoga within the few weeks leading up to your trip. Your back and neck muscles are more likely to spasm when you’re scrunched in 14B if you haven’t been actively working them out.
Think about your back when booking your flight. If you have extra funds, splurge for first class or business class where the seats are larger and more comfortable. Be sure to choose an aisle seat so you can get up out of your seat more easily while in flight. If possible, take a direct flight to limit time in the air. If no direct flights are available to your destination, give yourself enough time between connecting flights to avoid running through the airport with your bag.
Stuffing your suitcase or carry-on bag full just means extra weight that you will have to lug through the airport or lift into the overhead bin. Carrying heavy bags through security and to the gate can put strain on your muscles before you even sit down on the plane. Besides, most airlines charge you if your bag exceeds their weight limit. Make a packing list to avoid bringing extra items that you probably won’t need; your back (and your wallet) will thank you later.
Move About the Cabin
When the plane has reached flying altitude and the captain turns off the “fasten your seatbelt” sign, be sure to get up and move about the cabin. Getting up and walking through the aisle every 30-60 minutes will help prevent your back from getting too stiff. If you can find some room in the back of the plane, do a quick stretch or two. Lifting your arms over your head and rotating your torso can help relieve pressure on your back muscles.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the humidity in aircraft cabins are only about 20% or less. Less humidity means that your body will become dehydrated more easily, and dehydration can cause the muscles in your back to become stiff or sore. So, be sure to drink plenty of water before and during your flight to ensure you stay hydrated – 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air is recommended. Try to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as these are diuretics and can dehydrate your body even more.
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