While you can’t always avoid painfully long lines or cranky TSA officers, Dr. Felder and Dr. Tranter offer ways to reduce neck and back travel pain:

Pre-Flight

  • Super hydrate your muscles and joints by increasing your water consumption 3 days before traveling.
  • To reduce last minute frantics, pack a few days ahead of time using a list.
  • Bring a flexible gel ice pack (just $6 at our office) for use at your final destination. Inform the TSA officer of a medical ice pack in your carry on. Your hotel may allow freezer use for medical items.
  • Noise-canceling headphones reduce the fatigue, nausea and irritation that jet engine rumble can cause.
  • Bring along your favorite neck pillow to use at your nighttime destination.
  • Travel neck pillows ($10 at our office) are great for sleeping on the plane.
  • Pack lightly – most travelers bring items that are never used.
  • Use rolling luggage to take the strain off your shoulders
  • If you are taking a lot of stuff, use two smaller bags rather than one large, heavy, cumbersome bag. Even if you must pay for luggage, it will be cheaper than dealing with a flair up or new injury.
  • Your carry on should be light enough to easily lift above your head into the overhead compartment.
  • Use a backpack for your carry on for easy travel.
  • Carry fruit for a muscle – hydrating snack, and avoid low water content foods, alcoholic beverages and excess coffee, tea or energy drinks.
  • Take along a light jacket, even in the summer. Planes are often cold, making your muscles suffer. A jacket can also double as a bolster for your neck or lower back.
  • Allow extra time to get to the airport to reduce your stress level.

At the airport

  • Take a brisk walk rather than sitting for long periods.
  • Many airports have a massage therapist on duty and offer a few minutes to an hour of kink reducing massage.

On the Plane

  • Don’t rush when placing or removing your overhead carry on. This is often when shoulder strain occurs.
  • Pick an aisle seat so you can easily get up and walk and stretch every 30 minutes.
  • During takeoff and landing, face straight ahead with your head against the headrest and maintain a good lumbar curve. This will keep your alignment during G forces, pressure changes and unexpected jarring.