Written by: Ashley Bowyer, PT, DPT, CSCS, PES
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays are here again and that means lots of travel to see family and friends to celebrate together. Unfortunately, that usually means extra long periods of sitting in planes, trains, and automobiles, leaving most people stiff and sore upon arrival at their destination. Here are a few tips, tricks, exercises, and stretches to combat/manage those body aches and pains that come hand in hand with lengthy travel.
- Get up and move!
For any type of travel that has you sitting for more than 2 hours, try and get up just to move around, stretch, and get the blood flowing instead of making the mistake of staying in your seat the entire journey. A good tip for those driving this holiday is to try and build in rest stops when driving every 2 hours. The same idea applies to flying as well! We recommend taking a walk down the aisle on the airplane every 2 hours keep those joints loose and limber.
- Stay Hydrated!
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining your health and keeping those muscles and joints lubricated, especially when traveling by plane where you are forced in a low-humidity environment,. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommend a daily fluid intake of 15.5 cups for men, 11.5 cups for women1. On top of that, factor in any fluid lost in sweat from carrying/loading luggage on your trip, walking the terminals of the airport, and the low humidity environment on the plane and you have a recipe for dehydration. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water in the days BEFORE you embark on trip, as well as bring an empty water bottle (to get through airport security) to fill up throughout your airport adventure. Do your best to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks that can further dehydrate you as well.
- I can’t get up!
If you’re like Randy from “A Christmas Story” and can’t get up (and out of your seat), here are a few stretches and exercises to do while stuck in a cramped seat to keep you loose.
- Heel/Toe Raises: Keep those ankles moving by raising your forefeet and toes up towards your head, followed by raising up your heels as you press your toes down into the ground. Repeat this 10-20 times every 2 hours.
- Leg extensions: Straighten your knee as you raise your foot upwards toward your head, then slowly lower it back down to resting position. Repeat this 10-20 times every 2 hours.
- Seated Marches: lift up your foot and knee (marching from your hip), then slowly lower it down and then perform on the other leg. Repeat this 10-20 times on each leg every 2 hours
- Pelvic Tilts: Arch/tilt your low back and then flatten it against the seat back repeatedly. Your pelvis should tilt forward and back during the movement. Perform in a comfortable and pain free range. Repeat this 10-20 times every 2 hours.
- Scapular Pinches: Draw your shoulder blades back and down. Repeat this 10-20 times every 2 hours.
- Chin Tuck: Slowly draw your head back so that your ears line up with your shoulders. Focus on putting pressure on between the back of your head and the seatback. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then release. Repeat this 10-15 times every 2 hours
- Upper trap and Levator Stretch: Bend your head towards the side (like you are trying to touch your ear to your shoulder) for a gentle stretch to the opposite side of the neck from the direction you are bending. Hold for 30 seconds. Next, tilt your head downward and to the side looking down into your armpit until a stretch is felt on the back of your neck on the opposite side of the direction you are looking. Hold for 30 seconds. Then repeat both stretches on the other side.
*For pictures and directions of above exercises, please visit: bit.ly/2zEcy73 and use exercise code YKZ7D9V.*
Disclaimer: If you have any current or ongoing orthopedic injuries, please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing these exercises/stretches.
We hope these tips help you have a very happy and healthy holiday!
- Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Institute of Medicine Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water, Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Washington, D.C. National Academies Press 2005.
About Ashley Bowyer, PT, DPT, CSCS, PES:
Ashley Bowyer graduated from the Ohio State University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Health Sciences where she was also a member of varsity women’s soccer team. She became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in 2011 and Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in 2012. Ashley then earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2013. She has also earned certifications in Functional Movement Screen and impact concussion testing and rehabilitation.
Prior to relocating to North Carolina and joining Raleigh Orthopaedic in 2017, Ashley specialized in sports and orthopaedic cases including treating numerous youth, amateur, collegiate and professional athletes. She has special interests in soccer, ACL prevention/rehabilitation, as well injuries related to everyday life and sports.