Travelling with Scoliosis

If you have scoliosis, you have probably suffered from back and/or shoulder pain in some form over the course of your life.

People with scoliosis often experience increased discomfort when they have to sit down for long periods of time. This means that long-haul flights and even long car journeys can become logistical nightmares - scoliosis-related pain can occur at any age, and even a mild spinal curve can cause a lot of pain.

Preparation is key!

When you book your flight, try to plan a schedule that will minimise your stress:

  • Consider taking a flight where there will be fewer people on board (and thus more room for you to lie across the seats if necessary).

  • Contact the airline prior to booking your flight and let them know that you suffer from back pain. They may be able to provide you with more information on which flights are least crowded.

  • If possible, try to limit your down time between in-flight connections or layovers.

  • If you can help it, don't schedule a flight that will require you to wake up extremely early.

During the journey

Once you've done some preparation, you can start thinking about how you will keep pain at bay during the flight itself:

  • Some kind of lower back support - e.g. a back roll or a couple of pillows from the flight attendant - can be a good way to prevent slouching and keep your spine straight, minimising lower back pain.

  • Bring a pillow to support your neck. Travel pillows can often be purchased at the airport if you forget to bring your own.

  • If you are unable to position your legs at a right angle while seated on the plane, ask for something (pillows, blankets) to prop your feet up and keep your knees at a right angle. Doing so keeps stress off the lower back.

  • If you have long legs, request an exit row or bulkhead seat, as these generally offer more leg room.

  • Ask for an upgrade! Occasionally, airlines will have additional seats with extra leg room available in first / business class, and if you explain your situation, they may upgrade you free of charge.

  • Move around during the flight. Staying still for prolonged periods stresses the spine and can make back pain much worse.

  • See if there is room at the back of the plane to do some quick stretches - these can improve flexibility and ease stiffness. Just make sure you stay in your seat during turbulence!

If you are a Scoliosis SOS patient and you're planning to go on a long car journey or flight, make sure you speak to your ScolioGold therapist and get some advice on what you can do to make your journey as comfortable as possible.

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