Whether it’s business or pleasure, traveling can be stressful on the body in more ways than we realise.
For those of you jetting off on holidays or those who fly a lot for business, our in-house Osteopath, Kate Smith, addresses ways to prevent any aches and pains incurred before, during and after traveling.
Before the flight…
Lugging your luggage
Despite most luggage having wheels these days, it can still cause shoulder problems when dragging it behind you. To avoid this, try not to extend your arm too far back. Hold the suitcase closer to your body with your elbow bent to take pressure off the shoulder.
Hydration is extremely important, especially before the flight. Try to drink 2 litres of water within 12 hours prior to traveling. Air conditioning can make you very dehydrated which decreases drainage and can prevent muscles from properly contracting, therefore reducing muscle tone. Increasing water intake before and during your flight will help prevent muscles cramping, improve the strength of muscle contractions and quicken muscle response which will help you to feel less stiff after a long flight.
During the flight…
Sleeping on a plane is absolutely fine but you must take care of your neck. To make sure you don’t look like a nodding dog (which I’m sure many of us have achieved!), ensure your neck is supported with a U-shaped travel pillow.
During any flight there generally isn’t much room to move so our bodies become sedentary. When this happens your blood can’t flow through your body and back to your heart the way it needs to and could possibly cause a dangerous blood clot. To prevent this, here are a few simple exercises that can be done in your seat or while waiting for the bathroom – a prime time to stretch and move!
1. Heel & Toe Raises (seated)
• Place your legs hip-width apart with flat feet, directly under your knees
• Lift your heels so that only the balls of your feet are on the ground
• Hold for 10 seconds, lower heels then repeat 10 times
• Reverse this exercise by keeping the heel of your foot on the floor and lifting the balls of your feet up
• Hold for 10 seconds then drop and repeat
2. Tricep Stretch (seated)
• Raise both hands straight up over your head, as far as you can
• With one hand, grasp elbow of opposite arm and gently pull to one side
• Hold stretch for 15 seconds then repeat on the other side
3. Shoulder Stretch (seated)
• Cross one arm across your chest
• With the opposite hand, gently press the elbow towards the shoulder
• Hold for 15 seconds then repeat on the other side
4. Squats (standing)
• Place feet shoulder-width apart and (if there is room) link fingers together and stretch them out in front
• Bend at the knees and squat to 90 degrees and return to standing
• Repeat 5 times
5. Standing Stretch (standing)
• Stand with your feet together
• Bend at the waist and touch your toes
Lifting luggage can also cause problems, especially when retrieving it from the conveyor belts. Waiting at the baggage carousel is a time when many people seem to become anxious. Has my luggage traveled on the right flight? What happens if I don’t recognise it? This might just be my own experience, but collecting luggage usually ends up in an awkward situation that involves swinging a suitcase off the conveyor belt and into someone, endlessly apologising whilst running after a trolley that seems to be rolling off somewhere, only to realise a few moments later that it’s not the right case!
The aim is to remain calm. Find enough space (if possible) to bend your knees and lift. Make sure the trolley isn’t going anywhere and do things slowly. Back pain can arise from this activity, including irritating your disc or straining a ligament. Please be aware of your body!