Recently, many airlines have announced they will no longer provide pillows on their flights. This has many a traveler looking for alternatives. Good thing. In addition to the questions of sanitation and hygiene, those pillows were largely useless.
As a licensed chiropractor, I see many patients who return from traveling with all sorts of new ailments and re-injured old ones. Usually, the injury occurs during the flight, due to long periods of sitting uncomfortably. The right travel pillow will not only allow you to relax, which offers its own health benefits, but help prevent soreness or even injury.
During the day, the postural muscles in your neck are in contraction, to support your head. When you relax, your neck muscles relax with you.
When you are lying in bed, gravity helps keep your head and body aligned. When you are upright, like when sitting in an airline chair, gravity is your enemy. Especially, if you are trying to relax.
The standard horseshoe shaped travel pillow has no support under the chin. This allows your head to fall forward when you start to relax. Standard travel pillows also have excess padding in the back. This padding is largely unneeded since the high-back airline chair is there for support, much like your bed supports you when you are lying down. Making matters worse, this unnecessary padding pushes your head forward even further accentuating the lack of support in front.
The weight of your head is now putting stress on your neck. Not only will you be uncomfortable and unable to rest, you’ll likely end up tired, sore, and perhaps injured.
Picture your head and neck alignment when you are lying in bed. You naturally place yourself in neutral alignment, minimizing stress on your spine and neck postural muscles. You want to mimic this alignment as much as possible when you are sitting upright. Hanging your head forward or cocking it to one side is not only uncomfortable, but places great strain on your spine and neck postural muscles.
The best memory foam travel pillow is one that provides full support, including under the chin. This support helps you maintain proper alignment while sitting upright. Posture = comfort.
Maintaining proper alignment while traveling or sleeping upright is not only important with regards to personal comfort, but vital in reducing stress, soreness and preventing injury.
So don’t be concerned about the airline’s cost cutting measures. View this as an opportunity to get a travel pillow that works.