How To Avoid Back Pain During Long Flights

Have you ever taken a flight that's lasted more than a few hours, and exited the plane feeling the worst kink in your back? Well, you're not alone. Imagine getting on a flight that lasts up to 18 hours; as you exit the plane, your back feels as though you've just been put in a backbreaker hold by a wrestler. Known as ultra-long-haul flights, according to Point Hacks, they can be among the most uncomfortable due to the length of time you are sitting in your seat. They can really do a number on your back — and your entire body for that matter — including possibly leading to deep-vein thrombosis, a sometimes life-threatening blood clot, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overcrowded planes, narrow rows, and even narrower seating arrangements have also contributed to the discomfort passengers experience during flights. And, when passengers in front of your seat recline theirs to the maximum extension, it leaves you little to no space to adjust yourself comfortably or even open your food tray for that matter. So, how can you make your long-haul or even ultra-long-haul flight more comfortable to avoid the inevitable back pain everyone experiences?

Your health and comfort should be priorities when flying

Many of us have been on those really long flights that seem to never end. And, when you're sitting in coach or economy, there's little to no wiggle room to get comfortable. Your neck gets stiff, your knees are bumping up against the seat in front of you, your feet are trying to sit flatly on the ground with only a fraction of room between you and anything you place under the seat, and the pressure behind your knees creates tingles up and down your legs and back due to the shortened chair seat. There's absolutely nowhere for your legs to stretch, and if you're in an aisle seat, you can't extend your legs into the aisles for safety reasons.

You know your fellow seatmates in front of you that are nearly laying on your lap? They have the right idea! Reclining your seat helps to reduce the pressure placed on your lower back and spine, according to the Spine Institute of North America. And, if you can do so without aggravating the person behind you, then recline away. Stretching and moving around is also an important factor when on long flights. However, there is a multitude of products on the market right now to help alleviate back pain during those long hauls, and keep your legs from going into a dead sleep. It's just a matter of finding the right one that works for you.

Aids for back relief on long flights

There's a gadget on the market known as a hammock footrest (aka airplane footrest), and according to The Points Guy, it's best for people who aren't on the tall side. This peculiar-looking aid hooks to your food tray (if your seatmate is not reclined too far back), allowing you to elevate your feet off the ground and keeping your knees level with your hips, thus relieving pressure on your lower back. One problem though, it's a fixed hammock, which means you aren't able to move your feet and legs around, thus creating some additional discomfort for some.

Another option is an inflatable footrest, as suggested by Aero Corner. This is a great device for those who are lucky enough to have a seat directly behind a dividing wall, or lavatory area. Plenty of room to inflate it fully, and raise your legs high up on a comfy, yet firm square cube. Depending on the airline, you might be able to squeeze one between your seat and your fellow seatmate in front of you, but more than likely will not be able to inflate it completely. You won't have the comfort of extending your legs at all, however, you can move your legs and feet around with this particular aid, as opposed to the foot hammock. Whichever aid you choose, it's important that its best for your comfort as you make the long haul.