8 tips to help prevent low back pain and neck pain on long haul plane travel

Our director, Shane Heslop has just come back from an overseas trip on a mountain bike tour of the South Tryol region of Italy. We thought it a good time to discuss how to travel on a plane, and minimize your chances of developing plane travel issues like low back, neck pain and DVT.

  1. Drink lots of water before and during your flight and consider adding an electrolyte tablet. You will feel less jetlagged and less dehydrated post flight. Water keeps your joints and discs hydrated which in turn reduces stiffness and decompression of your spine and it makes you need to go to the toilet which is great as it keeps you moving!
  2. Every hour, get up and walk for five minutes around the cabin, it increases circulation and helps prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, and reduces stiffness in the joints and tightness in your muscles. Use compression socks also, it helps with venous return from your legs which helps your heart and cardiovascular system.
  3. Carry a good travel pillow, preferably not a blow up one, so your neck is as supported as possible.  Also carry socks so that you don’t get cold feet and tense up.  An additional pillow to place under your feet or at the small of your back is also very useful.
  4. Complete some easy stretches for your neck every other hour.  Hold the stretches for 30 seconds and repeat 1 to 3 times. This can be as simple as reaching for the ceiling with both hands clasped together, rolling your shoulders, stretching your neck from side to side.
  5. Research prior to your flight where the best seats are on the plane.  There are numerous websites that offer this like seatguru.com or traveller.com.au This will enable you to get more legroom, better seat recline, and an aisle seat which we strongly recommend. You can stretch better!
  6. Heat and Ice Packs.  It is possible to purchase heat and ice packs that can be activated without the use of a microwave.  Consider purchasing a small quantity of these to provide symptomatic relief of any back or neck pain.
  7. Medication.  Speak to your pharmacist or GP regarding appropriate medication that might assist you if your back becomes irritated during the flight.
  8. Fly on a newer plane. The A380, A350 and 787 Dreamliner all use lower cabin pressure which means you arrive with less jetlag, and will also have less dehydration, see point 1!

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