So Formula One is coming to the great city of Austin, Texas and there will be many people flying in from out of the country to see the races. These long flights can do a number on the body and especially the low back. There are a great number of things that can contribute to and/or cause low back pain, but today I’d like to focus on one that commonly affects people having to sit through long flights.

I rarely see a patient with low back pain whose “hip flexors” are not at least partially involved in their symptoms. So what are the hip flexors? And how can they cause back pain? I think this is most easily explained with a video … 

So if you’re flying to Austin for F1 and you already have back issues and/or symptoms like those described above, here are a couple things you can do…

I would recommend getting an aisle seat so you can stand up regularly. On the flight, get up and do the “standing hip flexor stretch” (demonstrated in the video above at minute 4), once every hour or so. Remember to keep your back knee straight and toes pointing forward. Use a small towel rolled up (or something similar) to support the low back while you are sitting. In my experience, the seats on planes often give little or no low back support.

Once you are in Austin and have access to a bed, you can do the “scissor stretch” in the video (demonstrated at minute 5:10). Really allow your body to relax while doing this stretch and make sure to perform it on both sides for 2-3 minutes each.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

*** If you have pain that doesn’t immediately fade when doing either of these stretches, DO NOT PERFORM THESE STRETCHES. Similarly, if you find that your back pain increases after doing these stretches, do not use them anymore. These stretches should not hurt. In fact, most people do not even feel a stretching sensation while doing the scissor stretch.***

If you made it to Austin for Formula One and your low back is aching after that long flight, try the stretches above a few times a day and make sure to keep them gentle … if you stretch really intensely, you can make the pain worse. If these stretches do not help or do not get you feeling as good as you’d like, you can give us a call (512-947-3705) and I can help you in my clinic or wherever you are staying. Proper evaluation by a Licensed Physiotherapist and the utilization of hands-on Manual Therapy techniques can very quickly resolve low back pain and tightness.

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