How To Stop Body Aches After Flying

How To Stop Body Aches After Flying

After an exhausting flight, all you crave is to get home and collapse into bed.

But the reality often turns out quite different – all the body aches associated with flying won't let you rest, keeping you up through the night.

The ensuing day is even more demanding, your tiredness and irritability outdoing any other travel-induced fatigue, despite having rested well on the flight.

These aches and discomfort after flying, often known as post-flight aches, can significantly hinder mobility for a few days post-travel.

While there are measures to ward them off, many travellers remain unaware, leading to unnecessary suffering during their domestic or international trips.

So, what triggers these body aches after flying?

What Contributes to Body Pains After Flying?

Sometimes known as "Economy Class Syndrome", body pains after flying occur due to long periods of inactivity and sitting in cramped spaces.

The most common contributors include:

  • Dehydration: Air travel dehydrates the body faster than usual, causing reduced blood flow and muscle cramps.
  • Lack of movement: Sitting in one position for long periods can lead to stiffness, particularly in leg muscles.
  • Change in cabin pressure: The pressure changes during take-off and landing affect the body's ability to regulate blood flow, leading to discomfort.
  • Jet lag: Crossing time zones and changing your body's internal clock can also contribute to aches and pains.

12 Ways to Combat Post-Flight Aches

While these aches can be painful and disruptive, they aren't inevitable. There are a multitude of ways to alleviate or even avoid post-flight body aches, ensuring a sound sleep upon reaching home.

Below are our top twelve tips for effectively combating post-flight aches:

1) Treat Yourself to a Foot Massage:

Experiencing foot swelling after a flight is a common occurrence, as is the pain and discomfort that come with it.

An excellent way to combat this discomfort and boost blood circulation is through a foot massage.

Begin by immersing your feet in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.

If possible, take a hot bath or use a hot tub. If not, use Epsom salts or a foot soak solution to soak your feet.

Afterwards, dry your feet thoroughly and spend some time massaging them.

Make sure you pay special attention to pressure points around the feet and ankles, balls of the feet, and toes, using your hands, a massage gun or a foot roller for immediate results.

2) Try a Massage device:

Following on from our last point, a handheld massager like the Nano is an ideal tool to alleviate post-flight aches.

It can be used to massage tight, sore muscles and is especially useful if you lack the time for a full-body massage.

You can use it 5-10 minutes before bedtime for best results.

3) Consume Healthy Foods:

Protein is critical for muscle recovery after a flight, as it aids in muscle growth and repair.

Foods like eggs, chicken, beef, and nuts are excellent protein sources, especially since also contain amino acids that help muscle recovery.

Remember to include carbohydrates in your diet, which provide energy and support a healthy immune system, often compromised during travel.

4) Enjoy an Epsom Salt Bath:

An Epsom salt bath can work wonders on your tired muscles, reducing post-flight soreness.

Dissolve a cup of Epsom salts in lukewarm water and soak for at least 20 minutes, adding essential oils like lavender or orange oil for further soothing effects.

Throughout this process, please remember to stay hydrated.

Dehydration can worsen post-flight aches, so consume plenty of fluids, preferably with electrolytes, before showering and throughout the day.

5) Moisturise Your Feet:

By applying some lotion on your feet after reaching your destination or before sleeping, you can help relieve stiffness and boost circulation in your lower extremities.

While there are specific lotions available for post-flight aches, our favourites include cocoa butter, coconut oil or aloe vera gel - but you can use your preferred moisturiser.

Plus,  avoid wearing socks to sleep as they may cause your ankles to swell.

6) Engage in Light Exercises:

Light exercises like stretching or gentle yoga poses can help get your blood flowing and loosen up your muscles.

Try a post-flight workout with friends to burn calories while discussing your trip.

If you prefer to keep it simple, take a walk around the airport terminal a couple of times before leaving.

7) Modify Your Sleeping Position:

Experiment with different positions to find what alleviates your back pain.

Stretching before bed can help relax tight muscles in your chest, shoulders, neck, lower back, and hamstrings, allowing for a more comfortable sleep.

To recover fastest, lie on your back so that your spine can rest in a neutral position.

Place a pillow under your knees or an additional cushion supporting the arch of your lower back for added relief.

8) Stay Hydrated:

For your muscles to repair and recover, they need adequate hydration - that means drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

During and post-flight, drink enough fluids, avoiding carbonated or alcoholic drinks.

Combine this with the aforementioned tips to ensure maximum discomfort reduction and a restful slumber.

9) Use a Heating Pad:

Another intuitive way you can relieve post-flight pain is through a heating pad.

Simply place it on your neck, shoulders, back, or stomach for about 10 minutes to release all tension.

Heat therapy is scientifically proven to be highly beneficial for muscle relaxation, helping to reduce pain and stiffness around the body.

However, remember to use it with caution and for a short period only, as excessive use could potentially cause skin damage.

10) Take a Painkiller:

An over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen can help alleviate pain faster. Take it before eating or drinking anything to maximise its effectiveness.

However, the side effects of painkillers can sometimes outweigh the benefits, so use them sparingly and always follow the recommended dosage.

11) Invest in Compression Socks:

These socks are ergonomically designed to support your foot's natural shape and provide graduated compression, which aids blood circulation.

Wearing them while flying can prevent swelling and stiffness in your feet and ankles.

You can also wear them during recovery to alleviate discomfort.

12) Try the Hot and Cold Method:

Our final solution to combatting post-flight aches is something known as the hot and cold method.

By combining hot and cold treatments, you can relieve tight or aching muscles.

Simply use a cold towel to massage aching parts of your body for up to 20 minutes, followed by a warm shower.

The results of this method are immediate, and your muscles will thank you.

Quick Tips To Prevent Body Aches After Flying:

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid caffeinated drinks during the flight.
  • Consider taking an over-the-counter medication before the flight if you're sensitive to changes in air pressure.
  • Walk around every hour or so during the flight to reduce the risk of developing blood clots.
  • You can regularly stretch your arms, neck, back, and legs when seated.
  • Avoid consuming gas-inducing foods.
  • Once at your destination, lay out your clothes.
  • Eat protein-rich foods to repair muscles faster after long-distance flights.
  • Keep active upon reaching your destination by walking as much as possible through airports.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes while travelling.

How to Immediately Start Recovering After a Flight

After your flight, it's crucial to begin the recovery process. Use mobility exercises like cat or downward-facing dog poses to help move the joints and restore muscle balance activation.

Sphinx pose, or McKenzie extensions can also help extend your front side while compressing your posterior.

In conclusion, while travelling can be exciting, it can also be stressful for your body.

Therefore, preparing your body for the rigours of flying and adopting preventive measures against post-flight aches is best.

Following the ten tips discussed here can help you better manage and even prevent the usual aches and pains associated with flying.

Fly Safe!

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