Monthly Archives: August 2013

Back Pain Prevention Tips for Frequent Flyers


Flying anywhere…I love it. The journey, the adventure, the anticipation of someplace new, I love everything about it, well, except maybe for the airplane ride itself. Sitting for a long time with someone who must elbow their way into my limited space or falls asleep with their head practically on my shoulder is not something I’m fond of. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often. Trying to get comfy in those airlines seats and the body aches that come from prolonged sitting- now that’s something we are all familiar with. Whether it’s neck aches, stiff backs, achy shoulders or cramped legs from seats too deep and too high, now that qualifies as the “gotcha” part of the journey.

Many frequent flyers will agree that sitting on long flights, carrying heavy luggage, and poor seat support not only cause back pain and neck strain but can exacerbate pre-existing musculoskeletal problems. So, let’s get the excitement back into the travel by sharing ergonomic tips for your comfort and how to arrive at your destination feeling great and ready for fun.

Why should we be concerned about prolonged seating? Prolonged sitting is inevitable on an
airplane and that will increase the load on your spinal discs and the hip flexors become tight from constant elevated sitting, This can set up a domino effect which can cause spinal compression if the muscles are not stretched out. Dehydration combined with high cabin air pressure are yet additional red flags when it comes to the health of your back, as hydration is one of the keys to maintaining proper fluidity of your muscles and spinal discs and is necessary for shock absorption. In extreme cases, if you are prone to swelling in your legs, prolonged sitting on an airplane can also give rise to deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) as blood pools in your legs.

In short, whether you’re flying first-class or business class, sitting in a cramped position on a poorly ventilated airplane can wreak havoc on your body, not to mention traveling for long periods of time is equally demanding and exhausting. To protect the health of your back on flights and prevent the aggravation of pre-existing back conditions, here are some back pain prevention tips for frequent flyers:

  • To lift heavy luggage, keep your knees bent, your back straight, and carry luggage close to
    your body
  • Keep your carry-on light (pack essentials only) and use rolling suitcases
  • Rent a cart/hire a porter to transport your luggage through the airport
  • To keep spinal discs hydrated and reduce spinal decompression and stiffness, drink plenty of water before and during flights
  • Avoid long periods of inactivity (and the resulting poor circulation and stiff muscles and joints) by getting up every 30 minutes to walk the aisles, go to the bathroom or stretch
  • Simple exercises while seated get the blood pumping and help keep you alert ie ankle circles, roll the head slowly in both directions and open close the hands.
  • When using your laptop computer on the plane, watch your wrist and head tilt posture and sit closer to the tray.
  • To support your lower back and the natural curvature of your spine, bring a lumbar pillow or place the pillow or blanket provided by the airline at the small of your back
  • Practice good sitting posture: Sit with your legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor, shoulders relaxed, shoulders and hips in alignment, and thighs parallel to the ground
  • If your seat is high, use a small bag as a footrest support or wear higher shoes ie clogs or something with a heel to encourage a healthy circulation flow
  • If your legs tend to swell, wear special compression socks or stockings when you travel
  • Use a travel pillow or the pillow provided by the airlines to support your neck
  • If you are experiencing back or neck pain, apply a cold pack to the affected area
  • While watching a movie on the overhead screen, adjust your headrest to avoid cranking your neck

The fact is that airline passenger seats are not ergonomically designed, which means they cannot be adjusted to suit your particular body frame or help you achieve proper sitting posture. However, back pain, neck pain, and frequent flyers do NOT have to go together. If your journey involves driving check out our ergonomics while driving post to maximize your travel comfort. By following these simple back pain prevention tips, both you and your back can enjoy a safe and healthy flight every time you take to the skies.

Author Byline

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.

The 29th Annual National VPPPA Conference

VPPPA_conferenceAttention all occupational safety, health, and environmental leaders and industry workers: Registration for the 29th Annual National VPPPA Conference is now officially open. The conference, which will be held in conjunction with VPPPA Expo 2013, will take place at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center in Nashville, TN from August 26-29, 2013. The Expo will feature over 200 companies showcasing the latest innovations, products, and tools related to safety, health and environmental products and services. The conference, expected to attract about 3,000 participants, is comprised of a non-stop stream of professional workshops and keynote speakers who will address the most timely and relevant subjects in the field.

VPPPA, otherwise known as the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association, Inc., is the leading member-based organization dedicated to cooperative occupational safety, health and environmental management systems. The association serves as a support network for participants from a wide range of industries and provides networking opportunities, legislative information, educational and mentoring opportunities, professional development, and industry advancements for over 2,000 companies which are involved in applying to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). It also provides access to preferred vendors and consultants dedicated to VPP, many of whom will be featured at the upcoming VPPPA Expo 2013 and 29th Annual National VPPPA Conference.

At the core of the four-day conference are two full days of workshops addressing 21st century safety, health, and environmental issues. The Expo will highlight cutting edge innovations and products in occupational safety and health, including current best practises and programs.

Free pre-conference workshops are offered on Sunday, August 25, 2013 with seven skill-building workshops (for an additional fee) and an opportunity for networking. You will find a wide range of safety and health seminars offered on Tuesday and Wednesday listed below.

VPPPA Conference Workshops Tuesday, August 27, 2013

  • VPP in Tough Economic Times: The vice president of a Fortune 500 company explains how to achieve VPP results and increase employee morale and ownership even during tough times, thereby laying a foundation of future success
  • How VPP Can Save You Money: Learn how VPP prevents injuries and illness and lowers workers’ compensation fees and insurance claims
  • VPP Safety Leadership: Learn about the role of senior leadership in maintaining safety paradigms as well as the company’s VPP Star
  • Contractor Safety in the VPP World: Discover tips, tricks, and tools from on OSHA administrator for working with on-site contractors, including contractor selection and management
  • Responding to Violence in the Workplace: Learn from an Emergency Preparedness Administrator and Surety and Security Manager how to handle disgruntled employees in the workplace and what to do (i.e. hide, get out, or take out) if an active shooter enters your premises
  • Strategies for Safety Improvement: Rotate through three workstations as you learn how to prevent slips, trips and falls and other ergonomic injuries and repetitive traumas on the job
  • Winning Strategies for Increased Safety Ownership: Learn about current safety best practices and how a model of model of engagement, cultural transformation, and worker safety ownership can lay the foundation for operational success in a matter of a single year
  • OSHA Fall Regulations and Standards: In an ever-changing landscape, learn about new changes in upcoming fall protection program regulations, helping your organization increase safety and achieve compliance

VPPPA Conference Workshops Wednesday, August 28, 2013 

  • Incentive Programs to Encourage Safe Practices and Reduce Injury Incidence: Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using positive reinforcement to reduce the incidence of injuries and achieve corporate safety
  • Personal Stories to Set You on the Path to Safety Excellence
  • Improving Safety through Mobile Technology: Learn about the over tested 750 apps and how mobile communication devices can be utilized to improve safety and work performance, time efficiencies, and communications and reduce costs
  • Employee Involvement: Discover how enhanced employee involvement in maintaining workplace safety helps foster ownership at the workforce level and thereby achieve a safety culture and improved safe work habits
  • Safety Eyewear and ANSI Standards: Get up to date on the standards governing safety eyewear, including mandated safety standards and testing requirements as well as available technologies used to produce safety eyewear
  • NASA’s Culture Club: How NASA Builds and Sustains VPP: Receive a summary of NASA’s winning safety culture model which has earned its federal government sites VPP status
  • How Loss Prevention Observations Improve Safety: Learn about the loss prevention observation (LPO) tool which provides opportunities for observing and maintaining knowledge of site and regulatory standards, for identifying behaviours/standards that need correction, for determining root causes, and for developing solutions and improving intervention skills in a process which aims to improve safety with each successful observation
  • VPP Company Success Stories: An overview of companies which have already achieved Merit or Star status through their VPP principles and management systems
  • The Role of Frontline Supervisors in Affecting Safety Performance
  • Conducting Effective Electrical Safety Audits
  • The Rules, Requirements, and Importance of Documentation
  • Using Technology to Manage Your Safety Systems

If your company strives to achieve a world-class safety program, be sure to mark August 26-29th on you calendars and attend VPPPA Expo 2013 and the 29th Annual National VPPPA Conference in person.

Author Byline 

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.