Air travel with back pain – Brighton chiropractor’s top tips

If you suffer from back pain, air travel can be daunting. Cramped airline seats and heavy luggage as well as a general change in routine can sometimes cause existing back problems to flare up. But travelling doesn’t have to be hard on your back. 

Avoiding back pain during and after air travel is all about how you prepare. Here are Sundial Clinic’s top tips for a pain-free holiday.

Before you go

  • Choose a backpack which distributes weight evenly across both shoulders. This is always preferable to a single-strap shoulder bag or holdall, which will unbalance you and put too much weight on one side of your body 
  • Use wheels – a luggage trolley or wheeled cases can ease the load on your back. Use a trolley if you are travelling with lots of bags or awkward loads.
  • When booking your flight, ask for an aisle seat so that you can get up and leave your place without disturbing others. These also tend to allow a bit more room for your legs
  • Invest in your own back support. Lumbar pillows designed to provide lower back support and rolls to support the neck may be a great help – but try them out at home first to check that they suit your needs. Inflatable ones work best for travelling. Alternatively, tie a jumper around your middle – it will support your back.

On the plane

  • Be mindful of your sitting position. Keep feet flat on the floor and knees on a level with your hips to avoid putting strain on your lower back.
  • Move about during the flight. When you can, stand up, stretch and have a short walk up and down the aisle. It’s a good idea to do this approximately every hour or so.
  • Drink water – flying makes you dehydrated and this can make muscle spasms worse.

On leaving the plane

  • If you have checked luggage, be careful getting it from the carousel. Use both hands to lift it and use your legs to bear the weight, not your back.
  • Stay active during your holiday. Don’t just flop on a sunbed, as if your back has stiffened up on the plane ride, this will make it worse. Go for a short walk when you arrive at your destination and make time for regular, gentle exercise throughout your holiday. 


If you’d like more advice on how to prevent back pain, book in at Sundial for an appointment. We’re always happy to help. In the meantime, happy flying!