Flying With Back Pain

5 Tips for Flying with Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common ailments people suffer from.  It can limit your activity level and make some things such as traveling difficult to do.  Sitting for long periods of time and lugging or carrying heavy items such as your baggage can be a deterrent.  Here are 5 tips to try so you don’t have to cancel your trip:

  1. Upgrade Your Seats

    – If you can afford it, consider booking a business class or first class seat.  Or, if you have the points, utilize them to upgrade.  This allows for more leg room and seat space.  You also don’t feel like you are crowded on top of the person next to you and will give you more room to move around within the seat.  Some airlines also have seats that are 1 step above basic economy that provide additional leg room for a smaller fee.  If extra funds are not available for the additional cost to upgrade, then request an aisle seat so you can easily get up and move around every so often.  It will make for stretching your legs easier and you won’t have to disturb your seat mate should you need to stand up.  You could also request an emergency row exit seat, assuming you’d be up for the task should there be a true emergency.  

  2. Take Steps To Manage Your Stress

    – Back pain already provides emotional stress.  It can make your symptoms worse if you are dealing with the stressors of traveling.  Find ways to reduce your stress by making sure you are packed well in advance prior to your flight so you are not rushing out the door.  Print off or download your boarding pass so you don’t have to stop at the kiosk.  Also allow for additional time in getting checked in to the airport.  Nothing proves to be more stressful than trying to rush to catch your flight.   

  3. Pack Light

    – Carrying on a suitcase is preferable to most people.  Lifting it over your head to get it in the overhead bin can be downright painful.  If you are unable to lift things due to your back issue, then consider checking your bag instead.  This will prevent any additional injury or strain on your back.  If that is not the best option and you really want to take a carry on, pack as light as possible and ask a fellow passenger or flight attendant to help assist you in getting it into the overhead bin.  If you only need a shoulder bag to carry on, consider a back pack instead.  This will evenly distribute the weight of your items as opposed to carrying it all on one side of your body.  

  4. Bring Comfortable Items

    – Although one tip to travel light is important, do not skimp on those things that will provide you with extra support and comfort.  Lumbar pillows or neck pillows are great for support.  These usually have loops on them that can be either clipped to your carry on bag or fit in a small purse or backpack.  Bringing an ice pack can also help keep your pain at bay.  You can always ask a restaurant or coffee shop within the airport for a small bag of ice.  Be sure to bring any medications you currently use for back pain or an extra dose of ibuprofen or Tylenol, assuming you are cleared to take those kinds of pain reducers.  Don’t forget your earphones to listen to soothing music, an e-book or relaxing movie to make the time pass quicker.

  5. Book a Non-Stop Flight

    – Non-stop flights are the best way to go, however, that is not always possible depending on your location.  If a non-stop flight is not available to your destination, then find a flight that has ample time in between to get you from gate to gate.  This will keep the stress levels down as well knowing you don’t have to rush to a gate to make the next leg of your flight.

These tips of course are just suggestions.  Always get advice from your doctor on how you can travel safely for what you are being treated for.

Health Vantis


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