My husband travels a lot for his work, and his body has suffered! Sometimes I think he resembles the shape of an airline plane seat when he returns home! You might relate. Tight hips, stiff upper back, and shoulders, and lower back pain?
The effects of traveling, especially if it’s something you regularly do, can really take its toll. When you are in one position for an extended period of time, your circulation is restricted which means your muscles aren’t nourished, and this can make your body ache.
Also, sitting for a long period of time shortens the hip flexors and lower back muscles, making it feel tight when you stand up. This is especially true for taller people like my husband, who feels like he has his knees are up around his ears sometimes. One tip from him is he always opts for an aisle seat when he can. This way, you can extend your leg for a stretch while in the air.
Doing some simple stretches will make all the difference in helping you arrive at your destination in one piece and feeling good. Don’t feel like you need to roll out your fitness mat and do an hour workout with fancy equipment, – it’s just learning to release the tightness consistently so you can move without pain.
As a Pilates instructor, I see many clients who travel for work. They return home, pop in for a Pilates session to realign themselves and ‘put their body back together’.
These are my top 8 traveling stretches.
Remember to listen to your body and don’t move into any pain. These stretches should feel good!
1. Hip Flexor Stretch
Lunge forward with one leg, bend the front knee and keep the back leg straight. You will feel a stretch at the front of the hip. You may also feel a stretch in your calf. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
2. Calf Stretch
Take one step forward. Keep the toes of each foot facing straight ahead. Bend the front knee and press the heel of the back leg into the ground.
3. Shoulder Rolls
Scrunch your shoulders up to your ears. Gently roll the shoulders back and down, feeling your shoulder blades glide down your back. Repeat this three times.
4. Extension – Hands On Lower Back
Place your hands in the small of your lower back. Feel as though you gently tip your elbows towards the ground, floating your chest forward and up. Try not to arch the lower back – use your hands to give you feedback.
5. Roll Down
Stand tall and take a nice deep breath in. As you breathe out, nod the head and slowly roll your body forward. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings and through your back. Be sure to let your arms dangle and your head relax.
6. Chest Expansion
Stand with your arms out in front. Place the heels of the hands together and open the arms out to the side of you, opening your chest. Imagine something heavy on your arms, then release the stretch and let your arms float down beside you. Do this 3 times.
7. Side Bend
Take one arm over your head, bending to the side. Keep your body in a lateral plane and maintain evenness through the hips, or you could think of keeping an even weight through your feet. This will be a nice release for your lower back and for your side body, as you open up through the rib cage.
8. Neck Stretch
Stand tall and let you shoulders feel soft. Turn your head to look over one shoulder. Keep your jaw relaxed and your teeth apart a little. Take some deep breaths there, then carefully tilt your head downward as if you were looking under your arm. Feel the opposite shoulder blade glide down your back.
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