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Eight Tips for Surviving Flights When You Have Knee Pain

By Brian Acton

Let’s face it: air travel can be tedious. You’ve got airport security, in-flight meals, and crowded cabins to contend with. And that’s without factoring in aches and pains. If you suffer from knee pain, sitting in cramped airplane seats can only make things worse. But common sense and pre-flight preparation can help you keep the worst of your pain at bay. Here are eight tips for surviving a flight with knee pain. 1. Know Your Knees You should know the cause of your knee pain and the things that may trigger it. There are many different reasons your knee could be acting up, and if you have yet to receive a medical diagnosis, doing so before your trip is advisable. This can help you determine if you have any undiagnosed medical problems and how to treat or avoid that pain. 2. Choose an Aisle Seat Aisle seats can make a big difference. If you fly with an airline that lets you reserve seats ahead of time, make sure to reserve an aisle seat early. You’ll be able to extend one leg, so make sure to choose the side of the aisle that benefits the knee that most needs the relief. 3. Spring for Extra Leg Room Most flights have seat upgrades that can drastically extend the distance you can stretch out. With airlines continuing to shrink seat space as they look for ways to squeeze out more profit, it may be worth it to spring for a seat upgrade. You don’t have to like spending the extra dough, but it might be worth it when your knees aren’t jammed against the seat ahead of you. 4. Stretch Out While you probably won’t be able to fully extend your legs, you can take advantage of the space beneath the seat in front of you. That’s if you haven’t crammed a carry-on item beneath the seat. You may want to try and leave that space free and empty so you can take advantage of every possible inch of legroom. 5. Take Advantage of Layovers No one wants to extend their travel time, but layovers offer the opportunity to take a break and stretch your stiff knees as you move about the airport. You may want to consider breaking your trip into smaller flights, especially if it’s a long trip. 6. Get Up and Move Sitting in your seat for hours on end can cause even the healthiest knees to feel stiff and sore. While the aisle isn’t exactly the ideal setting for a relaxing stroll, you should get up and stretch your legs a few times during the flight. This will be easier to do if you’ve secured yourself an aisle seat. 7. Wear a Knee Brace Don’t leave your knee brace at home. Wearing it can help provide support and relieve stiffness as you fly. A metal-free knee brace provides additional convenience at the airport, as you won’t have to remove it to go through security. 8. Request a Wheelchair Airports usually offer wheelchair assistance for people getting on and off airplanes, going to and from connecting flights, and even getting through security. If you need wheelchair assistance you’ll often get boarding priority. Don’t be too shy to request assistance if you need it, as it’s preferable to extreme pain or injury. You can request wheelchair assistance ahead of time or at the airport if necessary.
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