Flying in Comfort: Fighting Jet Lag and ‘That Cramped Feeling’



Michael S. Horney

TRAVELING TO FAR PLACES can be a life-expanding experience,  but getting there is not always fun. And the older you get, the less fun it can be.  Here are some tips to make long flights more manageable:

Combating Jet Lag

Try these natural techniques to reset your internal clock:

  • Reset your watch to your destination’s time as soon as you get on the plane. If it’s daytime there, try to stay awake during the flight. Walking around the cabin may help. If it’s nighttime, try to sleep. Earplugs and a sleeping mask may help block out distractions.
  • Eat before you get on the plane so that hunger does not prevent you from sleeping. Inform the flight attendant that you will not be eating so that you are not awakened for a meal.
  • If it’s daytime when you arrive but nighttime back at home, don’t sleep. Instead, try doing some light exercise, like walking, to help revive your body and stop it from producing sleep-inducing hormones.

Understanding  the risk of  blood clots

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT,  (the formation of blood clots in deep veins) has been blamed for several deaths among long-haul airline passengers. While DVT is not specifically linked to air travel, it does occur situations where people are immobile—and these clots are dangerous when they block vessels in the leg or lungs. Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include

  • Tenderness and redness in the affected areas
  • Fever or sudden, unexplained cough
  • Pain and swelling in areas drained by the vein where the blood clot is located
  • Joint pain and soreness

Here are some factors that could indicate that you’re  more susceptible to developing DVT (If one of them applies to you, you should consult your doctor before the flight):

  •  If  DVT runs in your family.
  • If you’ve recently undergone surgery or have been wounded, especially in the abdomen or legs.
  • If you have varicose veins or heart failure or are obese.
  • If you’re dehydrated.
  • If you are undergoing estrogen therapy , including the use of estrogen pills.
  • If you have been sitting in the same position for more than 24 hours.
  • If you have deviations in your hemogram, or complete blood count, that could result in a higher risk of blood clotting.

Now, for  some simple, fun exercises 

Before you start,  drink plenty of water. Walk up and down the aisles when you can and try the following exercises  (DON’T  do  them  if they ‘re difficult or cause any pain):

Ankle turns. Lift your feet off the floor and move your toes in a circle, one foot moving clockwise and the other foot moving counter-clockwise. Change direction. Move about 15 seconds in each direction.

Knee lifts. While keeping your knee bent, raise one leg while tensing your thigh muscle. Do the same with your other leg. Repeat 20 to 30 times.

Arm bends. Start with your elbows on the armrest and your hands pointed forward so that your lower and upper arms make a 90-degree angle. Take turns moving your left and then your right hand to your chest and back down again. Do this exercise in a series of 30 seconds each.

Upper body stretch.  Stretch both arms high over your head. With your right hand, grab your left wrist and pull this slowly to the right. Hold this position for 15 second and then change arms.Forward bends. Place both feet on the floor and pull your abdomen in. Then bend slowly forward and “walk” your fingers along your shinbone to your ankles. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then sit up again slowly.

Shoulder stretch. With your right hand, grab your left elbow and pull your outstretched left arm slowly toward your right shoulder. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then change arms.

Neck roll. Relax your shoulders, let your head drop to your right shoulder and roll your head to the front and then to your left side. Hold each position for about five seconds. Repeat five times.

 Dr. Michael S. Horney is the head chiropractor at Port Jefferson Chiropractic, on Long Island, New York. He believes in using natural ways to good health for back pain, sports injuries, headaches, neck & arm pain, arthritis, accident recuperation, and much more.  Visit his website at:

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