Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

Don't Let Back Pain Keep You From Flying

by Caitlin Obara

If you have chronic back pain, sitting for hours in the cramped seats of an airplane can cause you enough pain to keep you on the ground. The key to pain relief during long flights is keeping your muscles limber. Do the following exercises periodically during your flight and you'll prevent the tired, stiff, sore back muscles typical of being forced to stay in one position for a long time.

Stretching the Leg Muscles

This stretches the muscles in your legs and lower back, and improves the circulation, reducing swelling in your legs and feet.

  1. Sit with both feet on the floor.
  2. Lean forward slightly while lifting both legs until your feet are off the floor.
  3. Point your toes to the ceiling, then down toward the floor.
  4. Move your ankles to turn your feet first in one direction for a few rotations, then in the other direction.
  5. Slowly place your feet back on the floor.

Avoid jerky movements or bouncing your legs to limit the stress placed on your lower back muscles.

Stretching the Lower Back Muscles

This stretches thigh, hip, and lower back muscles.

  1. Sit with feet on the floor.
  2. Tense up the muscles in one thigh.
  3. Lift that leg until the foot is off of the floor and you feel a slight pulling in your lower back.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and slowly place your foot back on the floor.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.

Don't let the stretching in your lower back reach the point of pain. Don't drop your foot to the floor suddenly so as not to jar your back.

Stretching Middle and Lower Back Muscles

This keeps those back muscles from tensing up during a long flight.

  1. Sit with both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a hand under each thigh with your palms up.
  3. As you roll forward from your back, pull up on your thighs.
  4. Bend and pull until you feel a slight pull in your back, then slowly relax.
  5. Roll backward while arching your back slightly then relax.
  6. Repeat this several times but not to a point of pain.

Use equal pressure on both thighs as you roll forward to prevent stretching one side of your back muscles more than the other side.

Stretching Upper Back and Neck Muscles

This helps to keep the muscles in your neck, shoulders and upper back from becoming tight.

  1. Sit with your hands in your lap and feet on the floor.
  2. Keep your back straight while rolling your shoulders forward.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax your shoulders.
  4. Roll your shoulders back as far as you can without pain and hold.
  5. Relax your shoulders and repeat the cycle several more times.

Don't force your shoulders beyond a point of pain, or if you feel any numbness or tingling in your arms. For more stretches, tlak to a professional like Davidson Chiropractic Clinic.