Stretch Your Way To Safer And More Comfortable Travel

Stretch your way to safer and more comfortable travel

With the onset of summer, many of us will be loading our families into a car or catching a plane to head to fun destinations. While the reasons for traveling on vacation are fun, a trip to a place of entertainment often means sitting in a cramped position for extended periods. You arrive prepared to unwind, only to find you have stiffness, sore muscles, and fatigue.

Symptoms range from annoying to serious

Often, the initial stress of travel leads to real pain and muscle spasms. Although the result is less common, it can be severe in the form of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), sometimes called “traveler’s clot.” A 2003 study conducted in New Zealand indicated that people who do not move as well as those who travel for 4 hours or more have three times the risk of developing clots in their extremities compared to those who do not travel. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms inside a deep vein, most often in the leg. The development of clots sometimes leads to hospitalization and can actually be fatal. If a clot (like an embolus) breaks off and travels higher into the lungs and remains untreated, the risk of infection or loss of life increases.

Another study from Leiden University in the Netherlands found that 1 in 4,500 travelers develop a DVT within 8 weeks of travel. The risk of DVT increases with longer periods and frequent flights, obesity, genetic predispositions to blood clots, and in those receiving hormonal therapy or taking birth control pills.

Fortunately, simple stretches and exercises that you can do while traveling help offset the physical consequences of inactivity. If your vacation plans include air travel, here are some ways to stay more comfortable—and healthier—during and after your trip. When the bell rings after takeoff and “Feel free to move in the cabin” is heard over the loudspeaker, keep in mind that this is a green light to walk around and stretch out. During long flights, it is recommended to get up and move around every 30 to 45 minutes. Even walking to the bathroom gives you important opportunities to move rather than stay in a static position.

Seven key stretches to help you travel better by air

• Lift your feet one at a time and make circular motions with each ankle, making sure to move clockwise and counterclockwise. If you want to have some fun, point your toes to form letters, words and sentences, which tap your ankle muscles!

• Straighten your leg and put a belt or luggage strap over the soles of your shoes. While holding both ends, pull the bar towards you, keeping the leg extended. This procedure stretches the hamstrings (the tendon behind the knee and thigh). Repeat with the other leg.

• If you find yourself standing in line to use the toilet, bend over and touch the walker with your fingers as close to your toes as possible – another great stretch for your hamstrings.

• While in the shower, place both hands on the wall, and place one foot in front of the other as far as space allows. lunge forward. This movement is an effective calf stretch. (As an alternate leg stretch: Bring your foot up a wall, keeping your heel on the floor, and lean forward.)

• In the corridor, stand on one leg, bend the opposite knee until your heel is close to your buttocks, and maintain this position for 15 seconds. Ensure your balance by holding onto a bench or, if possible, against a wall. Switch legs and repeat the exercise. This is an excellent stretch for the quadriceps and quadriceps muscles.

• In your seat, keep your head against the headrest, clasp your hands together on one side of your head, and tilt your head sideways to move your ear to your other shoulder. hold this position. Repeat, starting on the other side.

• Also in your seat: Take your right hand and touch the left back of your shoulder. Take your left hand and place it on your right elbow and pull it up. Switch sides after 15 seconds. Great for your triceps!

Additional travel tips

If one is available, place a blanket or pillow behind your upper back and in the curve of your lower back. This position allows your head to remain on the seat headrest and push your shoulders forward while enhancing the natural curves of both your neck and lower back, reducing the potential for pain and stiffness. Drink plenty of water, as it is easy to become dehydrated in an enclosed space at high altitude.

Stretching during flights and during long vehicle rides helps increase energy, flexibility and range of motion. Stretching also reduces the possibility of pain, muscle spasms, the risk of DVT, and fatigue. When traveling, use the simple stretches just described, and be sure to work both sides of your body. Hold each exercise for 15 seconds, repeating the entire series several times per hour. After all, your trip will be far more than time – it includes getting to your destination and home safe and sound!

If you’re experiencing back stiffness and pain for more than a day or two after the trip, chiropractic techniques, and possibly a healing therapeutic massage, can likely help restore your tight muscles to fully pain-free function and prepare you for your next adventure. If you experience deep pain in your leg or calf, see your doctor immediately.