Consider Your Posture During A Flight - Tips

Jackson Sayers, BSc (Kinesiology), discusses increasing your comfort on a long flight with good posture.

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Jackson Sayers, BSc (Kinesiology), discusses increasing your comfort on a long flight with good posture.
Video transcript

Featuring Jackson Sayers, BSc (Kinesiology) Consider Your Posture During A Flight - Tips Duration: 5 minutes, 25 seconds

My name is Jackson Sayers. I’m one of the partners in Health Choices. Health Choices is a solution-based website.

Today we’re at the new London Air Centre shooting our Perfect Posture series. We’re going to cover four main topics today: posture in the seat, equipment you can use that will help you on the plane ride, common injuries that you might have going into the flight and how to deal with them, and some simple isometric exercises that you can do on the plane that can help you get through the flight better.

Posture in the plane seat revolves around four areas of the body: your lower back, your legs, your chest and shoulders and your neck. What I like to do is I like to get my low back right into the back of the seat, get my seatbelt nice and snug, because that really sets my body up for good posture.

It allows my chest to sit over my hips, my neck to sit over my shoulders, and it allows my legs to extend right out. A really simple tip to remember when you’re flying on the plane is don’t start slouching. Get that low back well into the seat.

When you’re flying on the plane, there’s several great health products that can help you with your comfort and your posture when you’re flying. The neck brace – this is a Samsonite product. I bought it at the airport, I bought it about three or four years ago and it’s great.

Whenever I want to have a nap on the plane and I want to lean back, it really supports my neck from going both sideways and backwards and forwards. I find it a very nice piece of equipment that I can use when I fly. It really helps me sleep a lot better.

Another product that I like is the compression stocking. It can really help alleviate lower body pain and lower body cramping on a long flight. I find that if you put it on before the flight starts - these look like nothing more than a new pair of dress socks – but they really help eliminate those circulation problems we have in the lower body.

When you’re sitting on the plane for a long time your heart is not pumping the blood down to the legs. Diabetics have a very difficult time on long flights just getting circulation going. So don’t be embarrassed, don’t be afraid. Put on the compression stocking before you get on the flight and it will really help alleviate that discomfort in the lower body.

Another health product that might seem a bit obvious but it’s one of the number one things we should be thinking about when we fly, is water. Ninety-five percent of us are probably dehydrated most of the day, and when we get on a plane we’re in an environment that is decompressed, water is our best friend.

Circulation in the body is the number one problem with flying, and water is the number one way to combat it. So don’t be afraid to drink lots of water, it will also help you get up more, it’ll help you alleviate any kind of lower back pain, but the tip is drink lots of water. It’s really going to help you when you get off the plane.

Another health product that I like to use that’s a bit more unconventional, but I think it’s probably the most effective tool you can use on the plane, is just a small little kids’ rubber ball. You can get them in almost any little store and it’s a simple tool, you simply put it between your knees.

You don’t even really need to squeeze the ball a lot, because you couldn’t hold that for the whole flight anyway. If you just sort of squeeze the ball five or ten percent, it fires up the psoas muscle in the groin, fires up the low back and the hips and more importantly, it gets everything square.

If your knees are square at the end of the day you know your hips are square. And the problem without the ball is that you start to get into this kind of a position, or you start to cross your legs and then your hips start to turn, and then all those nagging back injuries start to become way more apparent on the plane. So what I like to suggest is to just sit up nice and straight and just hold the ball between your knees, and that’s really going to help you when you get off the plane.

When flying and you have a pre-existing injury, there are some great little tips you can do to help yourself on the long flight. Low back injuries probably are most common. The best thing to do is just to get that small lower back pillow, put it right behind your back, snug up your seatbelt as tight as you can, and keep that thing there the whole flight.

One of the biggest problems we have with airline seats is that they have no lumbar support. Another great thing to do for your neck and your shoulders is use that nice little sleeping pillow. It really helps you keep nice and square in your seat.

In terms of whether you’re not as tall as the average person, sometimes we find that when we’re in a plane our legs don’t quite hit the ground. It’s really advisable just to put something under your feet and that will really help that problem. The tip on flying and pre-existing injuries is to get up out of your seat as often as you can, walk around and make sure you actually give your body a break.

When you’re flying and you want to have a bit of a small workout, what I like to do is an isometric workout. You can do it sitting in the seat, it’s just fire up those muscles a little bit. I like to fire up my legs, I like to suck in my stomach a little bit, and fire up my upper body and my lats. How you get that muscle fired up is you just do a small muscle contraction. It would almost be like if you were squeezing your hand, but what you do is squeeze the muscle, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, once every 20 minutes.

The biggest benefit to an isometric workout on the flight is that it keeps your muscles working, instead of laying dormant on the plane for three or four hours, they’re engaged every half an hour, and that really helps when you start to get moving again. It will also help your circulation on a long flight.

I’d like to thank London Air Services for letting us use this plane for our Perfect Posture series, Perfect Posture in the Plane.

Presenter: Mr. Jackson Sayers, Kinesiologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Kinesiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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