7 ways to relieve back pain while on a plane

While the holidays provide a great opportunity to spend time with family, no one looks forward to holiday travel. In addition to long lines and long flights, those who suffer with back pain have an additional hurdle to overcome. Here are seven ways to alleviate back pain while on a plane:
Careful scheduling
Part of what makes air travel so stressful on your back is the cramped seating, which may be avoided through scheduling. Before booking, contact the airline directly and alert a representative of your back pain. He or she may be able to point out which flights are less likely to fill up. If you have an empty seat beside you, you will have more room to stretch out.
Book direct flights whenever possible. If you have to get a connecting flight, schedule a short layover. Also, plan flight times around your normal sleep routine, so that you don't have to wake up earlier than usual.
Bring pain relievers
Whatever over-the-counter medication your prefer for back pain, be sure to have some on you during your flight. Take the medication an hour before the flight so that it has time to work through your system. Keep some in your carry-on in case you need it while in the air.
Adequate support
Airplane seats aren't exactly the most comfortable or supportive, especially for long tips. If you're prone to back pain, bring items that will better support your back and neck, like back braces and pillows. Focus on supporting your lower back so that you don't slouch in your seat.
Pay attention to posture
Keeping correct posture throughout the duration of the flight can go a long way toward avoiding back pain. Your back should be supported and against the seat back, even when reclined. Your legs should be positioned in such a way that your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle and your feet are flat on the floor. If your feet don't reach the ground, lay something on the floor to prop them up. If you have long legs, try booking or moving to a seat with more room, such as next to an emergency exit or against a bulkhead.
Move around when safe
Once the pilot turns off the fasten seatbelt sign, get up and move around. Staying stationary for long periods of time can increase spinal stress, increasing the risk of back pain. Take a few minutes to loosen up your back by walking up and down the aisle. 
Hot and cold therapy
If you experience pain while in flight, traditional heat and cold therapy is a great way to alleviate it. Before you leave, pack some heat wraps or warm gel packs for heat in your carry-on. For cold, pack a Ziploc bag that the flight attendant can fill with ice, or an extra gel pack that he or she can store in the on-board refrigerator. Also, be sure to check with your airline or TSA to see what items are acceptable to carry on.
For treatment, alternate between heat and cold, in that order, in 15 minute intervals. The heat helps limber up tissue and reduce pain, while the cold helps numb the swelling.
Try to relax and rest
Simple rest and relaxation can help reduce stress and pain. You'll have plenty of time on your hands, so bring something not work related to stay busy. Keeping your mind on something other than your discomfort will help.
If you're experiencing back pain while on a plane and these simple fixes aren't working, seeking the help of a chiropractor upon your return can provide you with the relief you need.