As many have us have decided to escape the cold weather for a trip to somewhere warmer or more tropical, we begin to dread to dread the thought of airline travel; the literal “aches and pain” of flying on a plane. 

Here are a few tips to help make your travels more accommodating to your spine and health. 

According to Dr. Scott Bautch, immediate past president of the ACA Council on Occupational Health, utilize the following tips and advice to fight the pains and strains of travel before they occur. 

In the airplane

Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Then use rolled-up pillows or a blanket to maintain that curve when you sit in your seat. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the belt line and lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks a little. 

Check all bags heavier than 5-10 percent of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck. While lifting your bags, stand right in front of the overhead compartment so the spine is not rotated. Do not lift your bags over your head, or turn or twist your head and neck in the process. 

When stowing belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat first, and using your hands and feet, gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you. 

While seated, vary your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat. 

Do no sit directly under the air controls. The draft can increase tension in your neck and shoulder muscles. 

If you follow these simple tips, you can enjoy pain-free travel. When you return, if you are still experiencing pain and stress in your back, doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat problems of the spine and nervous system. 


Dr. Andrea Hornstein owns and operates Hornstein Family Chiropractic in Wahpeton 


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