Business Travel, Sardines, and Planes

Post by Brian Yee PT, DPT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT

Can we say PACK IT IN!!!!!!! ABC News just aired a segment (Click Here) about two people getting into a fight during an airplane flight. A female passenger sitting ahead of male passenger tried to recline her seat back to find that she could not because the other passenger used a special bracket that is placed on the pull out tray. The bracket blocks the person from reclining the chair in front of them. Well can you imagine what happens when you want to press your button in your seat so you can sit back…relax….and ‘enjoy your flight’ and then all of the sudden you cannot.

Well in this case the next thing you know the woman confronts the passenger behind her about it. Next thing you know, she splashes a cup of water on his face and all goes bad from there.

So why am I writing about this? Well, the news segment continues to talk about how historically the space between the two aisles on a plane used to be 34″. It has now been narrowed to 28″, 6″ less leg space all to make room for another aisle. So if you fly a lot or take long trips and you notice that you feel like you’re in a can of sardines….well you’re right! You are!

The concern for those who fly a lot is that with less leg room you may also feel like your knees, your back and neck are more stiff than they have ever been before. That’s because you are most likely stuck in a more prolonged position not being able to wiggle around.

There’s a clinical term called ‘Creep Phenomenon’. This applies to the longer a tissue such as muscle, ligament, tendons, or joint capsules sustain a prolonged stress or stretch to it, over time the tissue begins to breakdown and eventually becomes injured. This may hopefully help explain why after flying on a long flight you end up throwing your back out or get a kink in your neck. This may happen while you’re flying and even one or two days after your flight.  You sit there and wonder ‘How in the world did my back start hurting?’.

Sedentary positions, especially in cramped and awkward positions, can be very hard on your body. Sitting on planes as part of your business or leisure travel life can easily become a contributor to your pain patterns.

So don’t sit like a pack of sardines! Don’t let the ‘Creep Phenomenon’ set in place on your body! Get up and move…or at least treat yourself to first class once in a while!

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