Stretches and twists could ease back pain on plane trip

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

May 30, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I've been having back spasms and have a five-hour plane trip coming up. Other than getting up and walking around, what stretches or exercises can I do to make myself more comfortable on the plane?

We posed your question to Mike Clune, physical therapist and site coordinator at Health South Rehabilitation in Annapolis.

Before you get on the plane, Clune suggests doing trunk twists and standing side bends -- with your arms at your sides, lean to one side, sliding your arm down your leg.

On the plane, slip a lumbar roll or rolled towel between your seat and the small of your back. This will keep your spine in a neutral position, which will alleviate pressure on the lower back's disks, ligaments and vertebrae.

Maintaining good posture and a slight contraction of the abdominal muscles during your flight will also help support the back, says Clune. Finally, get up and move around regularly (aim for once an hour), and stretch again immediately after deplaning. Bon voyage!

I've just started jogging again. Why is it that I feel tired about 5 minutes into my runs, but if I fight through that tiredness, I get re-energized and am able to keep going for almost 30 minutes?

The initial winded feeling you are experiencing is normal.

According to the American Council on Exercise, in order to get oxygen to the working muscles right away, your body first burns carbohydrates anaerobically, which causes a buildup of lactic acid and results in fatigue. As your system shifts to aerobic metabolism, providing more oxygen to the muscles, you will feel revived.

It is during this period that you regain the energy you need to sustain a distance run.

The good news is this: As you get back into shape, your body will become more efficient and the time spent in the anaerobic phase will quickly shorten. So work through that first mile and the worst will be behind you.

I've recently moved to Baltimore and want to get involved in sports here. I'm not a great athlete, but back home I played beach volleyball and touch football socially and had fun with it. Is there any place you can recommend? I'm 24.

The Baltimore Sports & Social Club is a good place to start. A favorite among 20-something Baltimoreans, the BSSC is a co-ed club with a good mix of sports and sport.

The club offers leagues in everything from football, softball and volleyball to broomball, kickball and whiffle ball. So you don't have to be a former varsity athlete to participate, just a bit of a social butterfly.

For more information about the club, check out www.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail

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