We all love travelling! It’s a great way to escape from reality and relax, but unfortunately the journey to your tropical paradise can really take it’s toll on your body. If you’ve ever been on a flight before, you know exactly what we’re talking about – sitting in those tiny, cramped seats can lead to some seriously stiff necks and sore shoulders. Luckily, with the help of Dr. Sapna Sriram, we have some exercises and stretches that will offset some of your discomfort and minimize any aches or pains from those long hours of sitting.
Check out her tips below, and watch the video above for our chat with her!
Before the flight
Once you’re through customs with time to kill, there are several things you can do to make your travel experience so much more comfortable. If you feel embarrassed or shy about stretching in the airport, these exercises are so discrete that people won’t even notice!
Rather than using any exercise tools, you can just use your carry-on as a workout tool to stretch out your hips and legs – two areas that are most often affected during the flight. Your suitcase becomes a great tool to prop yourself up on, while keeping things discrete and allowing you to stretch out those problem areas before boarding. Watch the video above for Dr. Sriram’s demonstration of the Hip Hinge and Hip Stretch, two exercises that will get your muscles prepped for long periods of sitting.
On the plane
Now that you have stretched, you are ready to board the plane, but be careful of your posture! To get the best posture that will minimize soreness, follow these three tips:
- Put your body as far back into the chair as you can so you almost mold into the chair.
- Beware of ‘tech neck’ if planning to use devices, try to minimize your tray use, because having your neck bent for so long will definitely give you some issues with tightness and stiffness. Rest it higher up, where most airplanes typically put their brochures. You can even get Velcro straps to affix your device to the back of chair in front of you.
- It’s not realistic to be getting up every 30-45 minutes as we suggest when you’re sitting at your desk, but for a flight of three hours or more, you want to be getting up every hour and a half or so to help circulation.
The water bottle trick
Another great tip is to use a large water bottle to ease back pain by giving you some lumbar support during the flight. People have the tendency to hunch too much, or they are forced into an unnatural position that they can’t keep for a long time. With the water bottle, you keep alternating so that your body has mobility and this will reduce pressure on your nerves and joints and put you in an overall better position for your back. Also, having a water bottle on hand a great way to stay hydrated during the flight!
Sitting drains our energy, turns our muscles off, and we have limited real estate to do something about it. But even with the limited and confined space you have on a plane, there are some effective and subtle muscle activations that will keep your muscles turned on, which is key to prevent energy and stiffness when you arrive at your destination. Here are three stretches that can be a major life saver on the plane:
- Take your hand, place it behind your heel, then gently push your heel into your hand. This
activates your upper hamstrings and glutes. Hold for five seconds & repeat.
- Move your hand to the front of the shin and use same concept: push shin forward and resist your hand back. This activates lateral hip muscles. Hold for five seconds and repeat five to ten times.
- Take your hand on your knee push it against your hand to activate your lateral deep hip muscles.
As the flight continues, sometimes your neck and shoulder really begin to feel it. You can use your elbows to push into the back of your chair (like you’re trying to elbow the person behind you) in order to flex your shoulder blades and alleviate issues that arise from posture constraints.