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Chiropractors Call For Kiwis to Straighten Up Before Flying

Media Release

Date: 23rd July 2013

Chiropractors Call For Kiwis to Straighten Up Before They Fly

New Zealanders taking to the air in search of a temporary break in warmer climes are warned to take special care by the New Zealand Chiropractor' Association because of the extra strain on the spine and nervous system caused by the country's long distance from almost anywhere.

Dr Hayden Thomas, chiropractor and spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors' Association explains: “We do see a spike in people visiting us when they get back from a journey overseas. We are a long way from anywhere so the effects are often more pronounced than for other nations. Long periods sitting in cramped positions on planes and in transit lounges, sleeping in different beds and without familiar supportive pillows, reduced hydration and the stress of travel and time zones on the nervous system can all take their toll.

“Turbulence shock and the vibration we experience sitting on long journeys in planes may also cause a change to the structure of the discs between the spinal bones and lead to stiffness and discomfort with increased likelihood of a disc bulge and nerve compression. We remind people to stay well hydrated and move around regularly during the journey. At this time of year when people tend to take international journeys to escape the New Zealand winter it's important to be in great health so one can enjoy their holidays.”

The Straighten Up New Zealand (SUNZ) website has a series of simple exercises taking just three minutes to complete, to help improve posture, stabilise core muscle groups, enhance health and prevent spinal disability.

Dr Thomas adds: `We're also asking people to think about their spines before they fly by keeping the weight in their suitcase to a minimum. Don't be tempted to over fill your suitcase and choose appropriate luggage with wheels or padded and supportive straps. Try our SUNZ exercises to help alleviate muscle tension and joint stiffness during the flight and take care of your spine when lifting your case from the carousel and also loading it into taxis and cars. Keep your back straight, use your core strength, bend from the knees and be sure to use airport trolleys when available. A quick trip to your chiropractor before you fly to help optimise function and prevent any potential injuries is also a great idea.”

The NZCA advises that stretches may help to ease any muscle tension during and after your journey and elevating your legs so that your feet are higher than your knees and regular movement en route should help reduce swelling and incidence of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).

Healthy food choices, minimal alcohol consumption and adequate sleep while on holiday also help to keep you feeling and functioning at your optimum.
In flight exercises may also include:

Sit upright with your shoulders relaxed. Tilt your head forwards until your chin rests close to your chest. Take a big breath in hold for the count of 5 then breathe out and relax. Repeat holding head to either side.

Sit upright and gently tuck your chin backwards like you are trying to make a double chin. Hold for 5 five seconds, relax and repeat 3 times.

Sit up straight, relax and keep your head still. Place your hands on the armrests and hunch both shoulders upwards. Hold for 5 seconds, repeat three times.

Sit slightly forwards. Raise your arms up straight and interlock your fingers, palms facing downwards. With your fingers interlocked, turn your palms upwards. Try and keep your elbows straight and fell a slight stretch in both arms. Hold the stretch for five to ten seconds and repeat.

Sit with your back straight with both feet flat on the floor slightly apart. Lift the toes of both feet up as high as you can. Both feet flat on the floor again. Lift heels up high, keeping the balls of your feet on the floor. Repeat ten times.

Sit up straight forearms and elbows flat on the arm rests. Lift your right leg up with your knee bent, and then lower it. Repeat this action with your left leg. Alternate legs repeat 20 times.

For further information on the New Zealand Chiropractors' Association visit


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