- Don’t forget the Ice or Hot Packs: If you have a neck or back pain problem—bring your ice pack or moist hot pack
- Get Up, Out, and Move when Possible: Try to get out of your seat and move around for five minutes or so every hour. If there is spare space at the back of the aircraft, you could use this to do some gentle moves that stretch your shoulders and upper back, some gentle bends for your lower back and some knee raises for your buttock muscles. If you are stuck in your seat for longer than an hour, there are some stretches you can do while seated – be aware of the person seated next to you though! Max can show you a few simple exercises that you can do, both during the trip and once you get to your destination, as it is just as important to keep moving once you arrive after a long journey. Five minutes of exercise at a rest area can help prevent deep vein thrombosis from happening and can also energize and wake you up! Stand up and move around the airplane as often as possible.
- Know what fluids Hydrate vs. Dehydrate: It is very important to drink plenty of water (rather than coffee, soft drinks or alcohol), in the days leading up to your flight as well as during the flight itself to ensure your body is properly hydrated.
- Drink water rather than alcohol, coffee, or tea. Flying dehydrates the body because of the very low humidity levels in the pressurized air cabin. Alcohol, tea, and coffee are diuretics that also encourage dehydration. Water will rehydrate the body and help to prevent circulatory problems.
- Neck and Back Support Pillows: Choose good, travel pillows for neck support and for your lower back. Using a small pillow between your lumbar spine and the back of the aircraft seat will help to maintain a natural lumbar curve and put the least stress on the vertebral discs while the seat is in the upright position. A supportive neck pillow that molds to the shape of your neck will be particularly useful if you ‘doze off’ as it will support your head comfortably, even if the seat is not reclined. Sitting with knees at right angles to the hips also takes the strain off the lower back, so, if you are of short stature, you may also need a footrest.
- After a few hours in a plane, there’s a good chance your limbs and muscles will hate you a little bit.
- Ankle Circles
Lift feet off the floor. Draw a circle with the toes, simultaneously moving one foot clockwise and the other foot counterclockwise. Reverse circles. Rotate in each direction for 15 seconds. Repeat if desired.
- Foot Pumps
Foot motion is in three stages.
- Start with both heels on the floor and point feet upward as high as you can.
- Put both feet flat on the floor.
- Lift heels high, keeping balls of feet on the floor.
Repeat these three stages in a continuous motion and in 30-second intervals.
- Knee Lifts
Lift leg with knee bent while contracting your thigh muscle. Alternate legs. Repeat 20 to 30 times for each leg.
- Neck Roll
With shoulders relaxed, drop ear to shoulder and gently roll neck forward and back, holding each position about five seconds. Repeat five times.
- Knee to Chest
Bend forward slightly. Clasp hands around the left knee and hug it to your chest. Hold stretch for 15 seconds. Keeping hands around the knee, slowly let it down. Alternate legs. Repeat 10 times.
- Forward Flex
With both feet on the floor and stomach held in, slowly bend forward and walk your hands down the front of your legs toward your ankles. Hold stretch for 15 seconds and slowly sit back up.
- Shoulder Roll
Hunch shoulders forward, then upward, then backward, and downward, using a gentle circular motion.