If you have to take regular long haul flights, this can be very hard on your back, particularly if you are already dealing with an existing back problem. Below is some advice which will help to make your next long haul flight as painless as possible.
Reserve a window seat
On a long haul flight, it is likely that you will want to get some sleep. If this is the case, you should reserve a window seat when booking your tickets. A window seat will allow you to use the interior of the plane as support. Simply roll up an airline blanket or a jumper and place it in-between your hip and the side of the aircraft as this will help to preserve the natural curve of your spine as you sleep. If you find the blankets supplied by the airline are too thin, you should make sure you pack a thick blanket in your hand luggage. Your physiotherapist may be able to provide you with a special neck cushion which will help to support your posture as you sleep on an aircraft.
Recline your seat as far as it will go and make use of the foot rest
While reclining your seat can be a controversial manoeuvre, it also allows you to get into the best possible position for sleep. Before reclining your seat, you should politely check with the person behind you if this is OK. You should also make use of the foot rest that is located beneath the seat in front of you. Elevating your feet slightly on the foot rest will help you to maintain the normal curvature of your spine. If you are sitting next to someone you know, you should lift the armrest which separates you, as this will prevent it from digging into your hips as you sleep.
Consider upgrading your seat
If you have the extra cash or air miles, then now may be the time to use them. Typically, business and first-class seats offer wider seats and some airlines even have seating which transforms into a small bed in which you can lie in, allowing you to achieve a relatively normal posture during sleep. If you need further advice about the best postures to adopt during sleep, talk with a physiotherapist. You may wish to ask the cabin crew for some additional pillows so you can support your back.
Speak with a physiotherapist
Before you travel, you should book a physiotherapy appointment. They will be able to assess your back pain and perform treatments which will help to ease any discomfort. They will also be able to give you a number of stretches and exercises which you can perform while sitting in an airline seat for long periods of time which will help to keep your spine aligned and your muscles supple.