Long flights and car rides can take their toll on our bodies, causing some serious back and neck pain. Muscle and joint stiffness from being stuck in a seated position for hours is bad enough, but restricted blood circulation is also a problem.
Even when traveling it is important to stay active to prevent pain. Make it your goal to change position every 30 minutes. Even if it is only a brief change, it can help prevent pain. If you are driving, stop every 60-90 minutes to get out and walk around, or get out of your plane seat and walk the aisle when flying.
Here are some ideas for stretches and simple movements that can be done while seated to prevent you from arriving with tight painful muscles:
1. The Figure 4 Stretch is great to prevent tightness in the hip area. Begin by crossing one leg over other at the ankle. Slowly lower chest down toward knees trying to keep a flat low back, until a stretch is felt in the crossed leg.
2. A Seated Twist can be used to improve spine mobility and stretch the lower back muscles. Begin by sitting upright in your seat with the spine in a neutral position. Twist to the side and grasp the armrest with your hands to assist in the stretch. Continue to maintain a good, upright posture. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat as necessary.
3. Heel/Toe Raises can be easily performed in tight spaces and can help to improve circulation. Lift heels off the floor, contracting calf muscles. Next, lift the toes off the floor, contracting muscles in the front of the lower leg. Repeat as necessary.
4. Stretching the neck can help prevent upper body stiffness during long flights. To target the upper trapezius muscles, position your left hand on your left thigh and the right hand on top of your head. Gently tilt your head forward and rotate to left until a stretch is felt in the neck as the hand on top of your head pulls gently to slightly increase the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
These exercise descriptions were provided by WebExercises. Illustrated instructions are available through Hayden Health & Wellness by request. For more information, contact Dr. Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.