Tips for Travel- Stay active during summer vacay!
With the summer season upon us, many will have travel plans that are likely to include some time in a vehicle. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, spending hours sitting in a confined space can take a toll on your body. Most people will experience some discomfort with sitting in one position for a prolonged period, whether it be stiff muscles, sore joints, or a general feeling of fatigue.
Read on to learn a few general tips and advice regarding exercises that can be done to counteract the effects of long travel. Please keep in mind that these exercises are not intended to replace medical advice from a professional. If you have any medical conditions or other concerns, you should always check with your doctor or other health care provider before trying any new exercise.
Legs and feet
• On a long flight, circulation can be compromised in some passengers and there is a risk of a blood clot forming (also known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT for short), which is a very serious condition. One way to help prevent such circulation issues is to occasionally get up and walk or stand in the plane. If you are traveling by car, try to take regular driving breaks where you can get out of the car and walk around for a few minutes. If you can’t stand up and move around, the next best option is to perform seated exercises to help increase blood flow in the deep leg veins. Simple exercises like moving your foot and ankle up and down (also known as ankle pumps) or in circles are a good place to start. Try to do 20-30 of these exercises every hour of the journey.
• Sitting calf stretch – keep your heel on the floor, lift your toes and front part of your foot as far as you can. Slowly stretch until you feel a gentle tension in your calf muscle but avoid pain! Hold this stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 2 or 3 times on each side.
• Turn your body and head to look over one shoulder, then repeat in the opposite direction – try for 5 repetitions in each direction.
• Pelvic tilts – gently arch your back until the pelvis tilts forward, then slump forwards slightly to allow pelvis to tilt backwards. 5 to 10 repetitions should help to prevent lower back pain and stiffness.
• Squeeze shoulder blades together, as if you are trying to pinch a walnut between them. Hold for 5 seconds then relax completely 10 times.
• Shoulder rolls – shrug your shoulders and make circles, rolling your shoulders up and back 10 times.
• Turn your head to look over one shoulder, then back to the centre, and repeat to the opposite side 5 times.
• Bring your ear towards your shoulder on the same side without turning your head or lifting your shoulder. You should feel a gentle stretch on the opposite side of the neck but avoid pain. Repeat 2 or 3 times on each side, holding each for 15 seconds if you can.
Maintaining good posture can help in preventing back and neck pain, however any posture can become uncomfortable over an extended period of time. The best thing you can do is to change your position regularly – “your best posture is your next posture” is a good motto!
• When traveling in a car, wear a seatbelt and keep the headrest in a position that is centred with the back of your head. In a plane or a train, adjust the seat to an upright position so that your bottom is at the back of the chair. If your lower back is not supported, try a lumbar roll or rolled up shirt/jacket – it should just support the natural hollow in your lower back.
• Hips and knees should be as close to a 90-degree angle as possible – depending on your height and the size of the seat you may need to use a backpack or other piece of small luggage as a footrest to bring your legs to a comfortable level.
• The armrest position should allow your elbows to be bent to 90 degrees as well – if its too low, use a small pillow under your forearms
While these can be helpful for avoiding sore muscles and joints during travel, you can also see a physiotherapist to get more specific advice and exercises suited to your particular needs, even if you are not dealing with an injury – it can go a long way towards injury prevention and keeping you moving!
Leave a Reply