This is week 2 of our 6-week travel series. This week we will talk about the problems of sustained sitting and its impact on the lower back.
Imagine this. You are four hours into the 17-hour long-haul flight. You are halfway through the second movie of the six you plan to binge on when you notice an ache in your lower back. You are seated two in from the aisle and your partner is soundly sleeping next to you. You twist and squirm to no avail. It doesn’t help the ache. You feel you want to move, but you are wedged in and the drinks trolley has just started its journey from the top of the aisle. Dilemma.
So, what’s going on and what will help?
Sitting for prolonged periods often puts the lumbar spine in a flexed position, which can overload the lumbar discs. This can lead to pain and a much greater chance of a lower back injury later. Moving around and walking often is essential to help the situation.
Here are a few tips to help in any situation when you are sitting and travelling for long periods:
· Be aware of your sitting posture – try not to slump
i. Sit upright, lifting your sternum and relaxing your shoulders
ii. Roll up a small towel and place it behind your back – between the seat and the and lower back. This will help the lumbar spine stay in a better position with a slight arch. This slightly arched position takes pressure off the discs.
· Try to avoid sitting for too long – take breaks and walk regularly. This can be difficult on a long-haul flight. Ideally, you would aim for a break every hour. If this is difficult, try for a break after every movie or simply swap seats with your partner!
· When you do get to move around, don’t stand around. To get the blood pumping, do a few calf raises and try a few hamstring stretches when waiting in line for the loo (don’t worry that others might think you look weird – you’ll probably never see them again!)
Hope this is helpful