If you’ve ever taken a flight, you know how bad the physical after-effects can be. Flying can give you all sorts of aches and pains — primarily in the legs, neck and back.
Here’s what you can do to relieve, or even prevent, the common discomforts of air travel.
Swollen legs is a condition almost every airline passenger experiences. It can manifest as puffiness around the ankles or an uncomfortable tautness, or even cramps, in your calves.
There are two primary causes for this condition: immobility and excessive intake of salt.
When you move about, your leg muscles contract, promoting blood flow. Sitting still throughout a flight causes blood to pool in your veins, making it difficult for fluid to move from body tissue back into the vessels.
Experts suggest stretching before, during and after the trip. Don’t remain seated; walk the aisles. Shift your weight from one foot to another. While seated, elevate your feet and rotate your ankles to keep blood circulation going. Change positions in your chair. Whether you are sitting or standing, squeeze your buttocks together and hold for five seconds, then release.
Consuming salty foods can also lead to water retention — when you take in more salt than your body needs, the body dilutes it by retaining fluids and making you thirstier. Avoid salty snacks just prior to and during your flight.
The other common drawback of air travel is neck and back pain.
To avoid either, doctors advise that you use a pillow, a rolled up towel or blanket, or even a magazine to support your lower back and waist. This helps to maintain the forward lumbar spine curve and lowers the pressure on the disks.
If you wish to read in-flight, put your book at eye level. Craning down to read causes the neck muscles to ache. If yours is a long flight, avoid reading continuously — take 10-minute breaks every so often.
Carrying a heavy shoulder bag makes you lift your shoulder to hold the bag in place. That causes muscles that run from your shoulder up the side of the neck to cramp. Opt for a backpack — it distributes the weight of your luggage more evenly. Rotate your neck and shoulders often.