Air travel is tough on the body, especially for those who are already experiencing aching joints and sore muscles. Sitting in a cramped plane for hours or even hoisting a suitcase from baggage claim can cause an injury to flare up and worsen. Here are some recommendations from your physical therapist for steps you can take to prevent air travel injuries:
1. Go Light on the Packing—Pack just the essentials you’ll need for your trip. Lifting an over-stuffed, heavy suitcase increases the chance of injury to your neck, back and shoulders. If you can’t do without the extra stuff, check an extra bag or ask for assistance if your bag has to go in an overhead bin.
2. Be in Motion at Least Hourly—Sitting still for hours at a time can result in deep vein throm-bosis-the formation of blood clots in the legs-so it’s important to keep your body moving. Tap your toes, rotate your ankles and lift your legs up and down to increase blood circulation. If your legs begin to feel tight and you’re able to remove your seatbelt, stand up and stretch or take a walk up and down the aisle of the plane.
3. Stay Hydrated—Airplane altitudes combined with dry cabin air can cause dehydration. Con-suming alcohol will only make it worse. Drinking water before, during and after your flight will help your body to combat muscle cramps and aching.
4. Stretch Pre-and-Post Flight—A light stretch before and after your flight helps to keep your body agile. Pre-flight movement jumpstarts circulation before your trip, and post-flight stretch-ing keeps your body feeling invigorated for the rest of the day. Contact your physical therapist for some easy stretching exercises to help.