Low Back Pain and Travel Tips (Part 3)


This article is part 3 of a 3 part series. For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here.


Low back pain (LBP) and the discussion of traveling tips will be concluded this month. Please refer to the last two months for other great traveling tips. Keep a copy of these in your travel bag!


BE PROACTIVE WITH THE AIRLINES: 1. Get an aisle seat. Request an aisle seat out of “medical necessity.” By stating it this way, the airlines will go out of their way to find you an aisle seat. It is easier to exit the seat in case you have to use the restroom or if an emergency occurs. It also allows you to get up and walk around for exercise, which can reduce the irritation of LBP and reduce the chances of blood clots. Your doctor of chiropractic can provide a letter to travel with stating that you have LBP, which can help you get special considerations. 2. Request a wheelchair. Make sure the airline knows you would like a wheelchair. They will handle your carry-on, get you through security quicker, and get you to and from the gate in a safe, timely manner. Typically this request is done at the time you make your reservation, but you can also tell a flight attendant prior to landing and they will have it arranged by the time you de-plane at your arrival site. Since there is no way to know how long the security line will be or how long the distance will be between gates or to baggage claim, having a wheel chair pre-arranged is wise. 3. Request a row of seats. Typically, if the plane isn’t full, you can ask for a row of seats that are empty so you can put the arm rests up and spread out, lay down and be much more comfortable. 4. Recline your seat. Depending on your type of low back condition, you may feel most comfortable either in a vertical upright position or reclined position. Some seats, such as in the exit row or last row, do not recline so ask when booking your flight or when you check-in to make sure your seat is adjustable. 5. Stay stretched. Prolonged sitting has many negative effects on muscles, joints, and circulation. Performing stretches from sitting or standing can help a lot, especially on long flights. Ask your doctor to show you some easy-to-perform exercises that can be done in confined spaces! 6. Pre-board. This option allows you to board the plane first and gives you extra time. 7. Handicapped parking sticker. Consider this if walking is challenging for you. Your chiropractor can assist you in this effort and it will allow you to park close to the entrance at the airport. 8. Get a seat assignment. Getting “bumped” is common practice these days due to airlines purposely over-booking. If you do not initially obtain a seat assignment, call the airlines immediately to obtain a seat. Getting bumped can mean a delay for a couple hours up to a couple days!


SIT WITH SUPPORT: 1. Back Support. Using a special back support (if possible) or even a rolled up towel, pillow, or airline blanket between your back and seat can really help decrease low back pain. A small water bottle (tighten the cap!) is also a good option. The “bottom line” is comfort. If it feels good and relieving, it will be of benefit and help you. 2. Sit “supported.” Sitting with your knees bent at a right angle (90°) pushing your feet into the floor can be relieving and offer good support, especially during take-offs and landings. Also, stretch your legs out straight periodically under the seat ahead of you. You may have to place your briefcase or carry-on behind your legs, in front of your seat to open up the space so you can stretch out. Lastly, drink plenty of water, slip your shoes off at times, get up and walk periodically, carry a note from us for special needs, and most importantly, ENJOY YOUR FLIGHT!!!

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