It’s the time of year for vacations. Hallelujah to that! But as much as going away can bring immense excitement, getting there can bring a pain in the neck…literally! Being in a seated position for hours with not much leg room can leave you with aches and pains, but all it takes is a few stretches to keep the blood a flowing and — Voila! a lot less discomfort, which in turn means getting the party started as soon as you get there!
Here are a few stretches you can try while seated on a long flight or road trip (as a passenger), or even at your desk at the office!
First off, keep your eyes closed as much as you can while doing these exercises. Closing your eyes will give them a chance to lubricate and prevents eye strain.
Lengthen the spine by imagining a rope coming out of the top of your head and pulling upwards. Roll the shoulders back and down. Try to maintain this position throughout the stretches.
Start with some Yoga Breathing to calm nerves, release tension, and lower heart rate.
Take a deep breath through the nose consciously filling the belly first, then the ribs, and finally the chest.
Exhale through the nose and consciously release the air from the chest first, then the ribs, and then the belly. Repeat at least 10 times.
Now you’re ready for the Stretches!
Neck & Shoulder Rolls
- Inhale, and slowly lower the right ear to the right shoulder. Take your right hand and put it on the side of your head and lightly push your head further into your right shoulder. Try your best to keep your shoulders down and relaxed. You will feel the stretch down the left side of your neck. For an even deeper stretch use your left hand to lightly pull your left shoulder down. Exhale and hold it for 5 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Take a deep breath, then exhale as you lower the chin to your chest. Stay like this for a few seconds. You will feel the stretch at the back of the neck and shoulders. For a deeper stretch lace your fingers at the back of your head and simultaneously push your head into your hands and your hands into your head. Relax for a few seconds and then repeat. Repeat five times.
- Inhale and roll the shoulders forward. Exhale and roll the shoulders back and towards the floor, pushing the shoulder blades down. Repeat five times in both directions.
Lace your fingers and rotate your hands so your palms are facing away from you, and your arms are extended towards the seat in front of you. With fingers still laced, slowly lift your arms to the ceiling until they are directly overhead, pushing up towards the ceiling. Bring your arms as far back as possible so they rest beside your ears. You should feel the stretch along your shoulder blades and in the center of your back. Hold it for at least 20 seconds, release and repeat. For an added side stretch, tilt your body and arms to the right, and hold for 5 seconds, then repeat on the left side.
Seated Cat and Cow Pose
Like the yoga pose, only seated! Hold the sides of the seat of the chair, palms down and fingers pointing towards the floor. Inhale and bring the chest forward and draw the shoulder blades together. Hold for a couple of seconds. Exhale and bring the belly inwards towards the back of the chair and allow the shoulders to fall forward, arching your back. Repeat five times.
Cross your right leg over your left leg. Take a deep breath and on the exhale twist your upper body to the right, bringing the left hand to the outside of your right leg. Make sure to turn your head along with the twist so that your head is aligned with the spine. Allow your eyes to gaze beyond the chair back. Inhale, come back to center, and repeat on the left side.
Again, similar to the yoga pose. Inhale, stretching the arms out in front of you, then exhale and bring your left arm under your right arm. Cross both arms at the elbows, with your forearms parallel with your body, fingers pointing up towards the ceiling. Try your best to make your palms touch. Inhale, and raise your elbows to shoulder height while moving the fingers as far forward/away from the body as possible. Exhale and slowly draw vertical circles with the elbows in one direction, and then the other. Repeat with the right arm under the left arm. This is a great stretch for the shoulders.
A great tool for leg stretches while on vacation is a StretchBuddy Legcord. This product is super light and compact making it easy to take in your carry-on and use on the plane, car, or hotel room.
Legcords Seated Outer Thigh Taps
These are great for the outer thigh and hip area. Put your Legcords around your mid-thighs to create resistance when the legs are slightly apart. Keeping your left foot flat on the floor and your abs engaged, step to the side with your right foot and tap the floor with your toe. Bring the right foot back to center and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating tapping the right and left foot 10 reps on each leg.
Legcords One Leg Frontal Lifts, Ankle Rolls, and Calf Raises
These are great for the hip flexors. With the Legcords attached to your upper calves, and keeping your left foot flat on the floor and your abs engaged, bring your right foot up and forward against the resistance of the Legcords as far as it will go. Hold it up there and do 5 clockwise ankle rolls and 5 counter-clockwise ankle rolls. Then alternate 5 foot flexes and 5 toe points (for the calves). Bring the right foot back down, and repeat on the left side. Do 5 times on each leg.
This simple routine can make all the difference in starting your vacation relaxed, or stressed and sore.
Enjoy your time off. Relax, unwind, stay healthy. 🙂
Resources: care2.com, fitday.com