With the holidays coming up, whether you’re staying local, driving an hour or two away, or travelling by plane after a long hiatus, here are some stretches, tips and tricks to help make travelling a little more comfortable.

Move Your Body

When travelling, we often find ourselves in small, cramped spaces or sitting in the same position for prolonged periods. Doing the following stretches can help promote blood circulation and minimize muscle aches and joint stiffness that can result from poor posture and prolonged sitting. You can perform these anywhere. When you’re standing next to your car at a rest stop, when you’re waiting for your flight at the airport, or even when you’re sitting on a plane.

1. Neck Half Circles

Sit up tall and tilt your head to the right. Hold for a second or two then slowly roll your head forward so your chin comes towards your chest and then rotate your head so that your head tilts to the left and then back up to the starting position. Repeat this motion several times in each direction.

2. Standing Chest Stretch

Stand in a doorway and lift your arm to a 90-degree angle with your palm on the doorframe (you can also perform this stretch with your shoulder at a 30-degree angle with your elbow straight if that is more comfortable). Lean away from the shoulder to feel a stretch in the front of your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

3. Seated Twist

Sit up tall and bring one hand one your leg and the other hand behind you or on the chair. Twist your torso and hold for several seconds. Repeat on the other side.

4. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand in a staggered stance with one leg forward. Make sure your hips are centered and pointing forward. Keeping a slight tuck of your pelvis under, bend into the front knee. You can also perform this with your front leg on a step. You should feel a stretch in the front part of the hip and thigh of the leg that is behind you.

5. Seated Figure 4 Stretch

Sit up tall and cross one ankle over the other knee. For a further stretch, gently press down on the top knee with your hand. Repeat on the other side. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

6. Seated Calf Raises

Sit up tall with your feet on the floor in front of you. Slowly raise your heels off the floor, pressing your weight into the balls of your feet contracting your calves at the top of the movement. Hold for two seconds then slowly lower your heels. Repeat several times.

Be smart about your luggage

Use a roller bag, backpack and/or a crossbody bag. These styles distribute the weight and allow you to carry the load without as much work from your body. Carrying a duffel bag, tote bag or messenger bag on one shoulder may feel ok for a couple of minutes, but walking around all day with all that weight on one shoulder can cause those muscles to get achy and stiff. If you can, check your bags so you don’t have to worry about lifting your suitcase into the overhead bins. If you prefer a carry-on, ask for help with lifting it into an overhead bin.

Travel with a lacrosse/massage ball, exercise bands, or an ice/heating pack

These items don’t take up much space and can easily fit into your luggage. You can use a lacrosse ball to roll your feet out after a long day of walking or to roll out the tight areas around your neck and shoulders after a long day of driving. You can also pack an ice pack (in your checked luggage if flying on a plane) or a heating pad so that you can get some relief once you reach your destination.

Make time for your PT exercises

It can be easy to get out of your normal routine during the holidays, especially when you have guests over, the weather is colder, you’re visiting family or you’re busy with travel plans. Try your best to keep up with your home exercise program, even if it means doing only one of your stretches or exercises that day. If you find it hard to fit it in during the day, try to do them first thing in the morning or right before bed. Some movement is better than no movement, plus you’ll likely feel better if you do them!

We hope you enjoyed these tips. The team at Endurance Physical Therapy wishes you a happy holiday season!