Just the thought of sitting in those cramped airline seats for hours can make your back hurt. The key to pain-free travel is to keep your back muscles from contracting and becoming tired from being in one position for long periods. The following exercises, that you can do on the plane, keep your back limber and reduce the pain and inflammation of tired back muscles.
General Tips for Exercising on the Plane
- Start each exercise by sitting upright in your seat with your feet flat on the floor.
- Don't bounce or do jerky movements as you exercise so you don't stress your back muscles.
- Only move to the point where you feel a slight pulling on the muscles. Stop before it becomes painful.
- Allow several seconds of rest before moving onto the next exercise.
Leg Muscle Stretching
This exercise works on the muscles in your legs and lower back. It improves the circulation and reduces swelling in your feet and legs.
- Lift your legs off of the floor while leaning slightly forward in your seat.
- Bend your ankles to move your feet up and down.
- Rotate your ankles to move your feet in one direction a few times, then in the other direction.
- Place your feet back on the floor slowly.
Lower Back Muscle Stretching
This prevents the upper leg, hip and lower back muscles from becoming tired and inflamed.
- Tense the muscles in your right thigh.
- Lift your right leg off of the floor until you feel a gentle tug on the muscles in your lower back.
- Hold this position for a few seconds then slowly place your foot back on the floor.
- Repeat with your left thigh and leg.
Middle and Lower Back Muscle Stretching
This keeps the back muscles limber during your flight.
- Place your hands under your thighs with your palms up.
- Pull up slightly on your thighs as you bend forward from your waist.
- Continue until you feel a slight pulling in your back, then release.
- Roll back at your waist while arching your back.
- Relax for several seconds then repeat.
Upper Back and Neck Muscle Stretching
This focuses on relaxing the muscles in your upper back and neck.
- Roll both shoulders forward as far as you can until you feel the muscles pulling in your upper back.
- Hold for several seconds, then relax.
- Roll your shoulders back as far as you can and hold for several seconds, then relax.
- Repeat this shoulder roll forward and back several times.
Neck Muscle Stretching
This prevents your neck muscles from becoming tight during your flight.
- Place the back of your right hand behind you on your lower back.
- Turn your head to the left and try to touch your chin to your left shoulder.
- Hold this position as you feel a slight pulling in your neck, then relax.
- Place your left hand on your lower back and turn your head to the right.
- Touch your chin to your right shoulder, hold, then relax.