If you're fighting a case of back and neck pain, don't let it interfere with your travel plans. Keeping your back from getting stiff on those long flights is key to getting to your destination without a sore back. Do these exercises periodically on the flight and you'll be in good shape to enjoy the rest of your trip.
Making These Exercises Work
Frequent short exercise periods on your flight are more productive that one long session. Do the exercises for several repetitions each hour. Start slow and hold each position for just a few seconds. Move only to the point where you get resistance, not pain. Each time you do an exercise, you'll be stretching out tired muscles that want to tense up. When you arrive at your destination, your back and neck will be limber instead of tense and painful from constantly sitting.
Do the exercises in your seat. If the flight isn't full, walk up and down the aisle a couple of times and pick another empty seat in which to sit and stretch. The walk will move your hips and pelvis muscles which will help your lower back muscles to relax.
Neck Muscle Stretch
- Sit with your spine straight and touch your chin to your chest.
- Roll your head and neck clockwise for a few repetitions.
- Reverse and roll your head and neck counterclockwise.
- Do slow, smooth movements without jerking your head.
Upper Back Muscle Stretch
- Sit straight with both hands in your lap.
- Roll your shoulders forward as far as possible and hold for several seconds.
- Roll your shoulders back and open up your chest. Hold for several seconds.
- Slowly roll your shoulders forward and back for several repetitions without holding them in place.
Lateral Spine Muscle Stretch
- Sit straight in your seat and place the back of your left hand on your lower back.
- Turn your head to the right and touch your shoulder with your chin. Hold for several seconds.
- Turn your head forward and switch hands on your back.
- Look to your left and touch your chin to your shoulder and hold.
Lower Back Muscle Stretch
- Sit straight in your seat and place both hands under your thighs.
- Roll forward at your waist while pulling up with your hands on your thighs.
- Hold that position for a few seconds then relax your back.
- Roll back slightly at your waist while arching your lower back and hold.
- Relax back to the sitting position.
Upper Leg, Hip and Lower Back Muscle Stretch
- Sit straight in your seat and tense the muscles in your right thigh.
- Lift the right leg toward your chest until you feel your lower back muscles pull slightly.
- Lower your leg slowly to the floor and repeat with the left thigh and leg.
You can utilize these stretches whenever you have to sit for a long time, such as work or a conference, to avoid back pain. For more severe pain, see a professional.