There was a point in my life when I dreaded hitting the road to go on vacation. I knew the long hours traveling by car or plane would cause me to be in pain for the entire trip. The pain would ruin my vacation and made it challenging for my travel companions to enjoy themselves.
 
I have since learned to take a proactive approach to avoid letting chronic pain cast a dark shadow on my vacations. In fact, traveling and visiting different parts of the world is now something I look forward to, and do as often as possible – sans the pain.
 
In this article I will share two exercise routines that you can do in an airport or a hotel room to keep your body balanced and aligned while you travel. These routines are specifically designed for travel because they require little to no equipment, can be done with limited space, and will only take you 10 minutes. If you don’t have 10 minutes, do what you have time for. One minute of functional movement is better than none!
 
 

Airport Exercises

When it comes to staying pain free when flying, the following are the biggest factors to contend with: 
 
  • Muscle tightness from being cramped in a plane for hours on end.
  • Poor circulation from not moving during a flight.
  • Reduced oxygen delivery to the body from not breathing properly when hunched over in an airplane.
 
One way to reduce the impact of these unavoidable and unwelcome side effects of flying is to take a proactive approach. Exercises that promote mobility, circulation, and breathing can be done during your layover or while waiting for your luggage. The following series of exercises is designed to do just that. If possible, remove your shoes to help with blood flow and circulation to your feet, and be sure to stay hydrated.
 

 

Sitting Scapular Retractions 

Reps: 30 reps
 
Purpose: Combat slouching by activating and strengthening shoulder and upper back muscles.
 
Instructions:
  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back and hold throughout the exercise.
  3. Squeeze and release your shoulder blades together. Squeeze back and down, NOT up and down. 
 

Sitting Elbow Curls

Reps: 25 reps
 
Purpose: Improve shoulder mobility by moving your shoulder blades through a full range of motion.
 
Instructions:
  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back.
  3. Place your fingertips into the pad of each hand and point your thumbs straight out. Place your big knuckles on your temples.
  4. Hold this starting position; then pull your elbows away from each other to force your upper back muscles to create the work. Do not lose your hip position; keep them rolled forward and maintain the arch in your low back.
  5. Pull your elbows back and then close them together in front of your face. Keep your elbows up at shoulder level; do not let them drop down.
 

Breathing With Hands Behind Head

Reps: Hold for 10 breaths
 
Purpose: Opens up the thoracic spine (upper back) and delivers oxygen to the body.
 
Instructions:
  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back.
  3. Interlace your fingers behind your head, pull your elbows back and pull your shoulder blades together.
  4. Keep your chin up and relax your belly. Maintain this position for the duration of the exercise.
  5. Breathe intentionally into your ribs so that your ribs expand outward with each inhalation. 
 

Sitting Leg Crossover Stretch

Reps: Hold for 1 minute on each leg
 
Purpose: Stretch and activate the hips.
 
Instructions:
  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back.
  3. Cross your right leg over your left so that your anklebone is just above your knee.
  4. Using the strength of your hip (not your hands) press the knee of the crossed leg downward towards the floor.
  5. Breathe and hold for 1 minute, then switch sides and repeat. Maintain an arch in your low back for the duration of the exercise. 
 

Sitting Foot Circles and Point Flexes

Reps: Circle 10 times on each foot going in the following three directions: clockwise, counter clockwise, and point and flex. Switch sides and repeat.
 
Purpose: Mobilize the feet and lower legs, and promote circulation.
 
Instructions:
  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back.
  3. Cross your right leg over your left so that your anklebone is just above your knee.
  4. Circle the foot of your crossed leg clockwise 10 times, counter clockwise 10 times, and point/flex 10 times.
  5. Switch sides and repeat. Make your foot circles as big and full as possible. Pretend you are scraping out the inside of an ice cream bowl. The slower and more deliberate the better.

 

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