I was inspired to write this blog by Mark, a client of mine who has been having McTimoney Chiropractic sessions for the last 21 years. In his session this week he stated that in his professional career (he works in the City) of the last 20 years he has flown 5 million “air miles” with just one airline alone and he wondered about the effects of that on his alignment. The “air miles” didn’t include other airline travel through work, or any personal travel; so in reality he had travelled over 5 million miles. We discussed the effects that flying has on the body and how to counteract some of these effects during the actual flight. Mark came to the conclusion that McTimoney Chiropractic has been a way of life for him and a lifesaver on numerous occasions when he has walked off a plane in pain due to the prolapsed disc in his low back. We recalled how he once came straight from the airport having come off a flight from Japan as his back had seized up en route. He has combined his sessions with Pilates, a stretch routine, tennis, cycling, skiing and cycling.
So a few days later after Mark’s session here I am at 38000 feet in an A380 plane on my way to Phuket, Thailand. I have always loved travelling to distant shores discovering new cultures, beautiful landscapes enriched with the most breathtaking scenery, colourful temples and roaming wildlife, meeting warm and friendly local people along the way and sampling their cuisine. My senses are fully awakened when I experience such delights, some new and some old and familiar. I am truly happy to be alive soaking in all that can and creating memories to be treasured. Most people that know me including the majority of my clients know my passion for travelling is as great as my passion for McTimoney Chiropractic and thankfully I’ve been able to combine the two successfully over my 27 year career in which I’ve been fortunate enough to visit over 50 different countries spanning over 4 continents. I have taken McTimoney Chiropractic to Bahrain, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal and Europe.
“A good traveller has no fixed plans and has no intent on arriving”
My flight times have varied from 1.5 hours being the shortest to 14 hours being the longest and despite having travelled in business class twice, sitting for long periods in a confined space have had a negative effect on my own body resulting in back strain. My worst travel experience was 3 years ago from Delhi to Kathmandu where the plane took off 5 times as it could not land in Nepal due to adverse weather conditions so it kept returning to India before making another attempt. I kid you not – 5 times in total just to do that leg of the journey!! If it wasn’t for my calm travelling companion, Sachin, I don’t think I would have ever flown again as my nerves were shot to pieces on that flight and my body had tightened up due to the anxiety of all those attempts at trying to land the aircraft. The airline saying ” We hope you have had a pleasant flight” did not help the situation! We landed the next morning after the flight was finally aborted having spent the night at Delhi Airport. At that point in my life I was not meditating on a regular basis otherwise I’m convinced my reaction to the situation would have been rather different and more positive.
So here are a few tips for comfortable air travel that I use:
Stretch every few hours if you’re not able to walk up and down the aisle. The following stretches can be done standing or seated. Simply raise your arms and interlock the palms over your head. As you inhale stretch and extend the arms straight up, you should fill a movement from the shoulder blades over your head. As you exhale release the stretch. Follow this by doing the same stretch but taking the arms slightly back so getting a backward bend and stretching the abdominal muscles at the same time. You can add a side stretch in the same position so getting a side extension. Repeat all a few times.
Stretch the neck by taking chin to chest and then reversing by taking the head up. Go from side to side so chin to shoulder, followed by ear to shoulder on each side. DO ALL MOVEMENTS SLOWLY!! Repeat a couple of times.
Rotate your ankles clockwise and anti-clockwise. Alternatively flex and point your toes. Do calf raises by going on your toes.
Place a small pillow or rolled up towel in the small of your back supporting the natural curve of your lumbar spine.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks.
Keep in flight meals light to help reduce bloating.
Try meditating as it can be very calming helping immensely if you’re feeling confined or anxious. I love meditating in flight at such great altitude. It actually helps me to combat fatigue on the plane and after the meditation I often feel invigorated and revitalised.
If it’s been a long haul flight I will get a massage within a few days of arrival to help with releasing any muscle tension and combat jet lag. If I’ve arrived really late I will have a warm bath with Epsom salts or aromatherapy oils as this always ensures a good night’s sleep and helps to adjust the body’s rhythm to the new time zone of my destination. In my travels I’ve gone off road on dirt tracks on safari, hiked up mountains, ridden elephants, walked on ice glaciers, or paraglided I will have a McTimoney Chiropractic session on my return home to make sure my body alignment is good.
I can vouch travelling widens the horizons and can be done in comfort despite the confined space by following any of the above.
“Not all those who wander are lost” J.R.R. Tolkien