Regardless if you travel often or hardly ever, anytime you are confined to a small space for a long period of time can be hard on your body, especially if you are used to moving. On my recent trip to Spain, I decided to create a series of inflight stretching exercises that can easily be done regardless of your mode of transportation. But of course, every trip is filled with adventure…
Before we left on our honeymoon, I decided I would take photos on the plane ride there – we had 11 hours stuck in one place and I figured it would give me something to do. But then, we got on the plane, they had 104820 different movies to watch and the lights were dimmed since we were flying in the dark. “Let’s just take our pictures on the return!” I said.
During the trip I lost my cell phone, which was our primary photo and video capturing device. We still had a GoPro and time to kill at the airport in Barcelona, so, without any further ado, here is my self-care in the air series!
- Standing Shoulder Stretch: This stretch helps traction your spine and gives your shoulders a much needed reprieve. You can do it seated or standing. Make sure you keep your rib cage directly over your hips and your head over your shoulders. You may not be able to take your shoulders as far overhead as I am in this picture, no worries! Ribs over hips is more important. Hold for 90 seconds – 2 minutes.
- Reverse Shoulder Stretch: This stretch helps with hamstrings and shoulders – basically everything that needs it during long durations of sitting! Interlace your hands behind you (try to keep the palms completely touching), bend your knees, and fold forward. Knees can stay slightly bent the entire time. Try to reach your knuckles and your tailbone up to the ceiling for more stretch. Hold for 90 seconds – 2 minutes.
- Knee to Chest: This helps to stretch your hips and low back, plus the balance challenge for the standing leg helps to wake it up! One of my biggest issues when flying is an overall feeling of sluggishness, especially in my glutes – this helps to light up your proprioception when you’re stuck in the same position. Hold for 90 seconds – 2 minutes.
- Seated Stretch: You don’t even need to get out of your chair for this one! With your feet flat on the ground and your knees directly over your ankles, cross one ankle over the opposite thigh, keeping your knee as close to 90˚ as possible. Keep your spine stable as your lean over from the hips. Be sure that you are not just bending at the waist! Hold for 90 seconds – 2 minutes.
- Seated Twist: Hopefully your neighbor won’t mind you staring at them for a few minutes! In your best seated posture (feet flat on the floor with knees over ankles), use your muscular effort to rotate as far in one direction as possible. Rotate from the rib cage and lower back, doing your best to keep your hips from moving too much. You can use the seat rest to help anchor you, but try not to use it to torque you around further. Hold for 90 seconds – 2 minutes.
Try some of these stretches on your next travel trip and hopefully you can arrive to your destination feeling refreshed! Self care in the air is not just a luxury, it’s a requirement if you want to walk off your plane with good posture, instead of being a schlumpy mess.
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