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Sitting Through A Long Flight Can Be Worse Than Snakes On A Plane

airplane passengerA patient in her 70s recently expressed some concern to us about enduring a 20-hour flight to Japan.

You don’t have to be a senior for that long in a seat to take its toll on your body. So what can you do to weather the trip in fair shape?

Start by applying the same sound advice that applies to spending the workday at a desk – take advantage of the opportunity to get up and move around at regular intervals. At least every hour, if not more, if you can manage it without becoming too much of a nuisance for your seatmates.

The best way to manage that, of course, is to book yourself an aisle seat. That way it’s easy to get up and down when that cabin light is off without causing too much of a disturbance. Depending on how long the flight, it may also be worth it to consider upgrading to a more spacious and comfortable seat, too.

Before your flight

Then, in the days and hours leading up to the flight, make sure your body is in as good a shape as it can be:

  • Do make all your scheduled appointments here at our Kanata Chiropractic clinic.
  • Do keep up with your schedule of at-home exercises if we have prescribed any.
  • Pack the carry-on bag light so you won’t strain yourself stowing it overhead or hauling it on an off the plane through that narrow aisle.
  • BUT – make sure to bring anything that can help you avoid getting stiff and sore, such as a lumbar support or seat cushion, headrest, travel pillow, or a heat wrap.

During your flight

Then, once you are waiting to board and onboard:

  • Take the time to do some simple stretches of your neck and shoulders and whatever other problem spots you may have as you wait to board. If that provokes some odd looks from fellow travelers, smile and nod and tell them how your neck or back wants to ache on a flight and, boy, doesn’t it feel good to do a little preventative maintenance! They may even see the wisdom of it and join in.
  • Once you are onboard, like we said, take every opportunity to get up and move around and stretch. It only takes simple things, like walking up and down the aisle, foot and knee lifts, flexing and rotating your ankles, or clasping fingers over your head.

Leg pain is another common issue

Another common issue for people on long flights is leg pain.

All that time sitting and inactive can cause your legs, ankles, and feet to swell as blood begins to pool in your lower extremities. As this pressure builds, your muscles may begin to ache, tighten, and feel tender.

The answer, again, is to get up and move. We keep saying that don’t we? But, ultimately, the human body was built to move, not be stuck in a narrow airplane seat for long hours at a time.

To the degree that you are able, either within the confines of the aircraft or the confines of your own physical condition, taking every opportunity to move and stretch is key to making it to touchdown without being in misery.

And then …

Come talk to us if you have specific concerns about taking a long trip and we can counsel you more on specific exercises and stretches you can do.

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