Sitting for long stretches of time can negatively impact your spine, muscles and joints, and it can even take a toll on the functioning of your internal organs. Symptoms you might experience include pain or tightness in your lower back, hips, legs, neck and/or shoulders. To make matters worse, you may even experience abnormal bowel function or fatigue.
Doing these simple stretches either before or after takeoff, or even while en route, can help to offset these aches and pains. Stretching decompresses the spine, elongates your muscles and stimulates blood flow to promote better circulation and increase energy throughout your body. Even if you’re not at the airport or a pit stop, make sure that stretching is a part of your daily routine. It’s as necessary as brushing your teeth! Developing the habit now will decrease stiffness over time, increase mobility and prevent age-related shrinking. Stretching costs nothing but a little time. You’re worth it!
The Foolproof Guide to Staying in Shape While Traveling Photo Gallery
STANDING SIDE STRETCH WITH HEAD CRADLE PURPOSE decompresses the spine while increasing elasticity of its muscles to alleviate tightness in the neck, lower back, shoulders and hips SETUP Stand against a wall. Inhale, interlacing your fingers behind your head with your elbows bent. Exhale fully, allowing your shoulders to gently glide down toward the floor.
1 . Press your elbows into the wall, and then inhale as you side-bend from your waist, sliding against the wall to one side.
2 . Exhale to return to center. Do 6 reps, alternating sides. TIP As you side-bend, keep your head gently pressing back, with your chin slightly dropped; allow your head to follow your spine as you move.
MODIFICATION If your shoulders feel tight, let your elbows come forward from the wall, or stretch your interlaced fingers overhead.
STANDING CHEST STRETCH PURPOSE loosens the shoulder girdle and creates space across the upper chest, stretching the pectoral muscles and front of the shoulders SETUP Stand tall with your feet parallel and hipwidth apart (or wider), and the palm of one hand, forearm and inside of your elbow against the edge of a wall, doorframe or pole. Place your opposite hand on the small of your back, or rest your arm by your side.
1 . Begin shuffling your feet a few baby steps forward to increase the stretch. Hold for 2–3 breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat on your other side. TIPS Picture holding a grapefruit under your chin to help stabilize your neck and keep your head aligned with your spine. Imagine that you’re lifting the sides of your waist up away from your hips—try to avoid any twisting in your spine as you shuffle.
Shopping Guide to Staying in Shape While Traveling
SHOPPING SETBACK #1: LUGGING AROUND HEAPS OF BAGS THE FIX: Focus on proper shoulder mechanics during Circles Up and Circles Down on the Arm Chair (or standing at the end of a Cadillac).
SHOPPING SETBACK #2: STANDING IN LINE FOR WHAT FEELS LIKE HOURS THE FIX: Maximize abdominal engagement with Chest Lift and Chest Lift with Rotation on the mat with a double breath pattern.
SHOPPING SETBACK #3: TOO MUCH ONLINE SHOPPING THE FIX: Offset forward head and round shoulder syndrome with Shoulder Stretch and Overhead Stretch with a band, keeping your scapula from excessively rising throughout.
SHOPPING SETBACK #4: BEING ON YOUR FEET FOR TOO LONG THE FIX: Keep your feet and ankles healthy with a band series consisting of Point and Flex, Circles Clockwise and Counterclockwise, Inversion and Eversion, working to stabilize your leg and moving only through your ankle and foot.
Brandon Gamble is a senior faculty member for BASI Pilates and the studio owner of Pilates Bodies in Motion, Inc., in Tacoma, WA. Brandon is known throughout the Pilates community for his attention to detail and innovative technique. His passion for teaching Pilates workshops and courses has been recognized worldwide for more than 15 years.