Strengthen Before the Flight
A lot of what causes back and neck pain over a long flight is that your spine has to compensate for weak muscles. Being forced into a cramped seat for hours on end can actually exhaust your muscles around the spine. Consider doing some basic strengthening exercises for a few weeks before your flight to prepare you. Pilates classes, free weights or just some basic core work at home will help strengthen your muscles and prepare you for a long distance flight without pain.
Adjust Your Seat and Position
Stand up and Stretch
On even the longest flights there is typically a few hours where you are allowed to get up from your seat on the plane. Use this time to stretch, take a walk along the aisle or just move around and get comfortable. Do a few quick movements that focus on your spine. This might include bringing your knees up toward your chest or bending over to touch your toes. Just a few minutes every hour or two can make a big difference in how you feel when you land at your final destination.
Avoid Heavy Lifting
Some people think that sitting in an uncomfortable seat for several hours is what causes their back and neck pain when in reality it is all the heavy lifting involved when carrying around a suitcase. Invest in a suitcase with wheels that can be pulled along rather than lifted. If you choose to bring your bag onto the plane, only do so if it light enough that you can lift it overhead and place it in the storage bins without hurting your back in the process. The same rule applies when you are lifting your bags from the carousel at baggage claim. Consider bringing along two smaller bags instead of one very heavy one.
Whether you are flying first class to cheap villas on an exotic island or flying in economy for business travel, you might be tempted to indulge in a few alcoholic beverages on your flight. It is best to avoid any alcohol on your flight if you suffer from back or neck pain as dehydration can tend to make the pain worse. Instead, enjoy plenty of water during your flight and make an effort to stay hydrated before, during and after your arrival.