Long flights, coupled with layovers and delays can often be the most taxing part of travelling. There’s nothing worse than having to take a day of recovery upon arrival just because of an exhausting flight itinerary.
To figure out how to stay healthy on long flights, I asked Dr. Melanie Lopes to share some of her wisdom. Here are four of her expert tips:
Choose your Seat Ahead of Time
To ensure you are well-rested by the time you arrive at your destination, consider choosing a window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep. By choosing a window seat, you can also control how much sunlight enters your area, which can be helpful when trying to fall asleep. If you are a taller individual, it might be wise to choose an aisle seat, or even better: an emergency exit seat to provide more leg room. The additional space in this seating area can help prevent any cramping or soreness in your legs.
I would highly recommend packing a travel pillow in your carry-on luggage for lengthy bus and car rides, and especially for long flights. The purpose of a travel pillow is to support your neck, in order to prevent it from falling into awkward sleeping postures, which will eventually lead to uncomfortable kinks.
Travel pillow styles will depend on the type of travel that you have planned. Embarking on a backpacking trip might warrant an inflatable travel pillow, which will reduce the amount of occupied space in your backpack. In contrast, you might want to splurge on a comfortably plush pillow for a slower-paced, all-inclusive trip. It’s best that you test the pillow in the store to assess it’s firmness. You want to ensure that the pillow is firm enough to support the natural curve of your neck, but not too firm that it limits the movement of your neck.
Motion is Lotion
I always remind my patients that it’s important to keep moving, whether you are seated at work, or on a long car, bus or plane ride. By keeping your joints moving and using your muscles, you can help prevent the onset of stiffness and soreness that tends to occur after hours of sitting. Additionally, immobility can increase the risk of swollen ankles, and a possible development of deep vein thrombosis (aka: blood clot) in the legs. By moving around, you can help improve your blood circulation.
I would recommend trying to stretch and move at least once every hour.
If you’re stuck in the middle seat, don’t fret! You can do some stretches in your seat, working from your head down to your legs:
- Start by rotating your head in circles in both directions
- Shrug your shoulders up and down 5 times
- Round your upper back like a camel and bring your arms in front to stretch out the area in between your shoulder blades.
- Grab onto your seat’s left armrest and twist your upper body to the left to feel a good stretch in your low back, and then do the same to the right.
- Clench your butt muscles, hold it for 3 seconds and then release. Repeat 5 times.
- Bend and straighten your knees
- Point your toes up to the ceiling and then down to the floor, repeat 10 times for each foot.
- Trace out the alphabet (in capital letters) with your feet from A-Z to help promote good blood circulation.
If you are able to get out of your seat, walk up and down the length of the plane and try to stretch, as noted above.
It’s important to stay hydrated with water before, during and after a flight. With low humidity and pressurized cabins, you can feel very dehydrated. Low humidity can also put you at risk for catching a respiratory virus. Bring an empty water container in your carry on, and fill it up once you pass security. You can then sip on some water throughout the flight. Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they can prevent you from sleeping and also increase the likelihood of becoming dehydrated.
Try these helpful tips to stay healthy on long flights and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to start your new adventure.
Dr. Lopes is a Sports Chiropractor in the Davisville area of Toronto. She works in conjunction with her RMT to treat a wide spectrum of patients from babies to senior citizens and everyone in between. Dr. Lopes’ other passions include salsa dancing, travelling the world, keeping fit at the gym and photography.
You can find out more info on her site: www.361clinic.com
Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/361clinic