Five Exercises to Help Undo the Damage of a Long Flight Quickly
It's not news that sitting is killing us, but sometimes sitting is inevitable. When you find yourself stuck sitting for hours on end in a cramped airplane seat, there are some things you can do to combat the damage. As a bonus, these can all be done while waiting for your suitcase to arrive at baggage claim.
Exercise 1: Neck Tilts
If you attempted to catch some sleep on the plane, there's a chance that the muscles in your neck are a bit out of whack. Neck Tilts are an easy fix to bring back balance to both sides of your neck. Simply start by dropping your right ear towards your right shoulder and holding for a breath before returning to center. Then, rock your head forward bringing your chin to your chest again holding for a breath. Finally, drop your left ear to your left shoulder, hold for a breath and return to center. It is important to do each motion separately, as combining them into a full range of motion circle may put you at risk of injury, especially when the muscles are unbalanced.
Exercise 2: Shoulder Rolls
Tight shoulders are not only common to air travelers, but to many of us who may not sit with the best posture. Getting some range of motion back into your shoulders is the first step to a fix (getting a massage would also work, but I don't recommend asking a stranger for one at baggage claim.) To start your shoulder rolls, shrug both shoulders up towards your ears, then press your shoulder blades towards each other while also pushing them down and back into starting position. Repeat the circles five times and then change directions.
Exercise 3: Twists
After hours of sitting your spine has lost a lot of range of motion and you risk throwing your back out when you yank that extra heavy suitcase off of the conveyer belt. Doing standing back twists loosens your spine, activates your core, and prepares you to move in all directions once again. To execute the twist simply place your right hand on your left hip, swing your left arm around your back to place your left hand on your right hip, and twist your shoulders counter-clockwise while making sure to keep your head and neck aligned with your spine. Once you've counted to five, release and return to center. Now, repeat the motion on the opposite side by taking your right arm behind your back and crossing your left arm in front of your stomach. Twist your shoulders clockwise for a count of five before returning to center. I recommend repeating each side at least twice, five times if you are wanting to feel as limber as an acrobat.
Exercise 4: Ankle Circles
After sitting for several hours, the joints and muscles in your legs are a bit tense and could use some loosening up. Ankle circles not only ease your ankle joints but also warm up the muscles in your calves. Depending on how good your balance is ankle circles can be done either on one leg or with your toes resting on the ground for support.
Exercise 5: Calf raises
Calf raises aren't only recommended in flight to reduce your risk for blood clots. Doing calf raises after you get off your flight gets your blood moving, warms up your calves, and also helps stretch the muscles in your feet and toes. Your foot muscles are crucial for so many things and are often ignored. Doing 10 reps of calf raises goes a long way to keeping your overworked tootsies healthy.