FLIGHT WOES: Do you stretch?

Photocredit: Daniel Bruce Lee

Summer marks vacation time for a lot of us and even though it is July, perhaps some of you are still planning that long trip you have been waiting for! Especially for long haul flights, sitting for hours in the airplane without moving and having poor air circulation can be incredibly deteriorating for the body.

Here are some great stretches, mobility drills and breathing exercises you can do on the plane and even after, in the hotel in order to re boost blood circulation and mind clarity!




Neck Rotations

I find the ones from the guys at GMB Fitness to be particularly great!

In the modern digital world, we find ourselves permanently looking down at our phones in the sagittal plane (facing forward). It is rare that we use our neck to its full range of motion i.e. looking sideways, looking up, looking diagonally

Neck rotations are essential not only in our daily lives at our work desks but also on airplanes. Staring at the in-flight entertainment, looking down at our tray food, sleeping uncomfortably at various head positions causes us to be so out of tune with tension building at the sides of our necks. This article provides deeper information on our neck, and what it should feel like to have our necks properly function.

Using a strap

Use of a simple yoga strap could help with stretching out your triceps, shoulders etc. Our upper body gets very sore and achy during flights and it is important that we consistently lengthen the muscles. Props are such a great way to aid you in overcoming tightness and its so lightweight!

Walk around and stay on your feet for abit

It would be most ideal if you could stand up and walk around every 2 hours or so. Spend up to half hour just standing at the back in an area to do a couple of full body stretches and clear your head.

  • Side bends: Stand with feet together n spine tall, raise your arms above your head. Put weight onto your right foot and grab your left wrist with your right hand. Pull your left arm to the side and bend to the right. You should feel an incredible lengthening at the left side of your torso. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Calves stretch: This is so simple, you can even do this in the bathroom! Place your toes against a wall or elevated surface with heels facing down toward the ground. With a neutral spine, hinge at the hips and feel an isolated stretch through your calves. Depending on how low you hinge, you will feel a different stretch either at the lower or upper calf.
  • Forward folds: Great for the lower back especially. Inhale with a deep breath, raise your arms above your head and begin to bend forward over your thighs. Start by hinging at the hips, do not bend the knees unless you feel incredibly tight through the hamstrings. If you are naturally not flexible, you can hold on to something of higher ground and hinge at a 90 degree angle i.e. torso parallel to the ground, instead of folding directly forwards.
  • Light back bend: Similarly, for the lower and upper back, we tend to round and sitting for hours on a flight aggravates our spine. Opt for a simple back bend by raising your arms above your head and reaching for the wall behind you. You can do this in the bathroom too. Squeeze your glutes to obtain a deeper backbend, maintain stable feet.
  • Ankle rotations: Some people get swelling in their feet due to poor circulation on flights. Besides walking around, rotate your ankles in different directions to avoid pins and needles, numbness and general aches. You might want to experiment with pointing and flexing your toes at different intensities too. In addition, avoid wearing shoes on flights as this prevents ventilation of the feet.

Flights can be bothersome and truthfully, sitting any longer than 3 hours can already have a mild impact on the body. Nothing cures flight woes better than a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed. However, you can make your body as comfortable as possible by incorporating mindful stretching and bringing awareness to tension in particular areas.  Flight aches and fatigue cannot be avoided due to the nature and constraint of the air space, so it is vital that we should make the most of what we have.  Last but not least, do remember to hydrate and drink plenty of water!

Till next month, have an amazing vacation!