Air travel can be rough, especially for those with aching joints, sore muscles or prior health problems. Sitting in a tight space for multiple hours or hoisting a suitcase from baggage claim can cause an injury to flame up again or even worsen. There are steps every physical therapy patient can take to prevent air travel injuries en route, in the air and after landing. Here are four tips for travelers:
1. Pack light
Traveling isn’t the time to test your body’s limits in terms of how much you can carry or lift. Packing minimally can prevent you from seriously injuring yourself by lifting your suitcase into the overhead rack or carrying too much on your back. If you must bring more, evenly distribute the weight in a bag with two straps to take the weight off just one shoulder, check an extra bag or ask for assistance if a bag needs to go in an overhead bin.
2. Be in motion at least once an hour
Sitting still can result in deep vein thrombosis, the formation of blood clots, usually in the legs. To avoid this condition, it’s important to keep your body moving frequently. Tap your toes, rotate your ankles and lift your legs up and down to increase blood circulation. If your legs start to feel tight and you’re able to remove your seatbelt, stand up and stretch or take a walk down the plane for a little movement. A little activity every hour keeps your body more limber and less fatigued when you step off the plane.
“To avoid deep vein thrombosis, it’s important to keep your body moving frequently.”
3. Keep hydrated
Plane altitudes combined with dry cabin air cause dehydration. Drinking water before, during and after your flight helps your body combat muscle cramps and aching. In addition, the lack of humidity in the air can increase your chance of a respiratory virus, according to Everyday Health. Keeping hydrated helps your airways prevent infectious germs from entering your body, keeps your skin healthy and your body dexterous.
4. Stretch pre- and post-flight
If you’re a regular physical therapy patient or even just a frequent traveler, a light stretch both before and after your flight aids your body in staying agile. Ask your physical therapist for some easy exercises that increase blood flow, as well as target your affected muscles or joints. Pre-trip movement jumpstarts circulation before your trip, and post-flight stretching keeps your body feeling sharp for the rest of the day.
Flying, while often the quickest way to get from one place to another, can cause major aches and pains for physical therapy patients who have pre-existing conditions. It’s important to take the necessary actions to remain as agile as possible so a trip won’t set you back in your therapy regimen. To avoid cramps, deep vein thrombosis and overall discomfort, remember to stay as active as possible before, during and after the flight.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.