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8 Tips for Back-Care When Flying

1. Lift Your Cabin Luggage in stages. Move slowly when lifting your luggage and break the action into smaller steps. When lifting a bag into an overhead compartment – first lift it to the arm of the seat, then to the top of the seatback, and then into the compartment.

2. Never twist while lifting. This is a common cause of injury to the low back. Turn with your feet so that your whole body moves around instead of just twisting your back.

3. Avoid lifting if possible. Ask for help. If you explain you have back condition, you will be surprised how helpful the airline staff will be. If your bags are small and light, it will be less of a burden to ask someone to do this for you.

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4. Pick an aisle seat. Ask for an aisle seat as it is easier to get into and out of an aisle seat, and allows you to get up and move around, throughout the flight with greater ease. Quite a number of airlines now allow you to select your seat when you are making a booking online.

5. Stretch key muscles. Sitting for extended periods can cause stiffness and tension in the hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the thighs) and hip flexor muscles, which in turn puts added stress on the low back. Ask your doctor or physiotherapist to advise you on a few safe stretches you can do whilst traveling.

6. Good posture in sitting. Place a small rolled-up airline pillow, blanket, towel or lumbar pillow between your back and the seat to support the natural inward curve of your lower back. You may also use commercial low back supports if you prefer.

7. Firmly plant your feet. Bottom-up leverage from your feet is also required to support your low back. While seated, your knees should be bent at right angles. If your seat is too high, place your feet on the footrest to keep your knees at a right angle to avoid stressing the low back.

8. Get up and move. Sitting in one position for extended periods of time stiffens the back muscles, which can put stress on the spine. Get up, stretch and move around every 30 minutes if possible. Movement stimulates blood flow, which facilitates the transfer of important nutrients and oxygen to your back, and thus reducing stiff muscles and muscle aches.

Hope these tips help you have a safe journey back!

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