Travel: How to survive your next long haul flight.

Give your back a helping hand to stay in top form for your next holiday or business trip.

Modern travel offers amazing opportuniies for personal and business development. The whole world seems just at the tips of your fingers, with so many amazing places to explore. But long haul flights, carrying heavy luggage, and the consequent disruption to your usual fitness and wellbeing routines can take it’s toll on your back. Follow these simple tips to keep your back healthy and ensure you get the best out of your time away, and come back in great shape!

1. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water before and during the trip. Ask the flight attendants for extra fluids at every opportunity. The air in aeroplanes is very dry and dehydration will prevent your muscles from recovering fully from the extra strain of cramped sitting positions and lifting or pulling your heavy suitcase.

2. Get moving

Don’t stay sitting for long periods, Get up preferably every hour or two. Use the corridors and areas near the doors and serving areas to stand up, stretch and mobilise your back and joints. Pay particular attention to the middle back, lower back and neck. Use gentle spiralling movements or twists to unlock each joint in your spine. Roll down to touch your toes and curve back up again, making sure you support your abdomincals and relax any tension in different segments of your spine.

3. Use neck cushions and extra blankets for support, especially while sleeping

Your seat is designed to keep you safe in a crash and is space efficient to help the airline carry as many passengers as possible, but it is not designed for optimum back health (unless you are travelling first class with a fully flat reclining seat/bed). So you need to minimise the discomfort of the fixed position as much as possible. Use the incline to change the angle of your hip flexors to your spine, and ask for spare cushions or blankets to pad the seat in areas where you have no support.

Turn sideways and use cushions or spare outer layers of clothing to support your middle back. Use a travel cushion under your neck, it’s worth the investment.for the discomfort it will save your neck later.

4. Use an eye mask and get as much sleep as you can

Travel is stressful and tiring, with new sights, sounds, smells assualting your senses. You need to be well rested, so don’t try to spend the whole flight working on your laptop or set yourself a movie marathon to get through every feature on the menu. Prioritise rest and sleep if you can, using relaixing music to clear your mind.

5. Walk around during stopovers or do yoga or stretch/resistance exercises.

Use the time when you are not in the plane to move your body and pump your major postural muscles to get the blood flow to those areas and activate your postural muscles.