Monday, March 28, 2011

Exercise while traveling to arrive at your destination pain-free

Traveling to far-away destinations can wreak havoc on your body.  Sure, it’s fun to visit family and friends or experience new places on vacation, but whether you go by car, bus, train, or plane, sitting for long periods of time can leave you feeling tired, stiff, and sore—not a good way to start the fun.

Stretching is a must when traveling for
a long time.
Advice from a chiropractor: Prepare for traveling the same way you’d prepare for an athletic event. Stretch muscles before your trip at home or in an airport--don’t be embarrassed to swing your arms or do a forward bend.  Then cool-down with a brisk walk after arriving at your destination.

If you’re driving try these tips:
  • Move the seat so you’re close to the steering wheel with knees slightly higher than hips.
  • Use a support behind your back to reduce strain, pain, or injury.  Place the widest part of the support between the bottom of ribs and waist.
  • Exercise your legs while driving by opening toes wide and holding to the count of 10. Tighten calf muscles, hold for five counts, then release.  Do the same for thighs and glutes. 
  • Roll shoulders up and back.  Make sure head isn’t leaning too far forward.
  • Tighten and loosen grip on the steering to improve hand circulation and decrease arm and hand fatigue.
  • Take rest breaks every 2-3 hours.  Find a roadside park and walk a while.
Long international flights can take a toll on your body.
Photo: Larry Burmeier

If you’re flying, these tips will help keep muscles flexible:

  • Place pillows or blankets just above the beltline to maintain the normal “S” curve of your spine.
  • Put another pillow in the gap between your neck and the headrest.
  • Check bags heavier than 5-10 percent of your body weight. 
  • Do not lift bags over your head or turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
  • Vary position frequently while seated to improve circulation and avoid cramps.  Move knees up and down; massage legs and calves. Reach arms over the seat back. Do in-seat spinal twists and ear-to-shoulder neck exercises.
  • For long flights, get up and walk along the aisles every two hours or so.
  • Avoid sitting directly under air controls, as this could cause tension in neck and shoulder muscles.
Read more travel stories by Beverly at Striped Pot and Austin Adventure Travel 

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