Tips For Self-Help On Long Flights - What You Can Really Do In Your Aeroplane Seat?
Or perhaps you travel regularly (or sporadically) for work and in that case, I hope you sometimes manage to swing it your way; take leave where a few extra days can be spent relaxing and enjoying the destination.
Despite the airline and staffs’ (best??) efforts, the in-flight environment is not the most comfortable, can lead to muscle tightness, aches and pains and feeling of being generally unwell.
If you have an existing issue, the prospect of starting and finishing a holiday with plane travel may seem a little bit much.
That stresses our body, and reduced air humidity pushes our system towards dehydration; so it’s not surprising we feel tighter and achier than usual.
Crossing many time zones at accelerated pace disrupts our body clock and that added fatigue from jet lag can be a real challenge to deal with, which is a contributing factor to our aches and pains.
When stationary, due to the lack of motion and downward pull of gravity, blood tends to pool in the vessels of the legs and fluid collects in the tissues, so it’s common that some swelling of the feet and ankles, even calves may occur on long flights.
If you are concerned or have health conditions, it’s best to consult your GP regarding their recommendations for your individual needs.
A little while ago I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to visit France for a short while. So exciting, I shifted a few things around, booked the best/shortest flights I could (though there were a few more stop overs on the way home than I would have liked), packed light and set off.
Whilst traveling my aim was to be able to enjoy the time away as pain free as possible – I spent less than two weeks overseas, so not one day could be wasted!
I put all my own personal strategies into place; a good neck rest, brought my small handheld self-massage tools that I found in Kmart, frequently asked the flight attendants for water to remain hydrated and attempted to book an aisle seat for every flight.
It's always frustrating, and it happened on the trip back, with me being moved to a window for the 14 hours flight from Dubai to Sydney. This made it significantly harder to perform my management strategies. This 'compulsory' seat-moving can be especially hard to resist if don't look sick or disabled; as many young chronic pain sufferers can attest. Try to be assertive; you have paid for your flight, and should not have to put up with discomfort because other people are too disorganised to arrange their seating!
You could also request your osteopath or GP to write you a letter highlighting the importance of your preferred seating arrangements, which may also be helpful when dealing with recalcitrant staff and passengers.
I was so grateful that on my two connection flights over to Europe I was granted the requested aisle seat, it made the world of difference!
These mobilisations and exercises throughout this blog I could complete without too much trouble.
In between reading, watching films or other activities, remember to listen to your body, get up, wiggle, change position and do a little mobilisation or stretching so that once you arrive, hopefully the aches and pains felt on the flight will be minimal and you can get on with the enjoying your time away.
Bartholomew, J. R., & Evans, N. S. (2019). Travel-related venous thromboembolism. Vascular Medicine, 24(1), 93-95.
Cannegieter, S. C., & Rosendaal, F. R. (2019). Travelers' Thrombosis. In Travel Medicine (pp. 469-473). Elsevier.
Fowler, P., Duffield, R., & Vaile, J. (2015). Effects of simulated domestic and international air travel on sleep, performance, and recovery for team sports. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 25(3), 441-451.
Thibeault, C., & Evans, A. D. (2015). AsMA medical guidelines for air travel: stresses of flight. Aerospace medicine and human performance, 86(5), 486-487.