Traveling to your summer vacation destination typically requires sitting in a car or plane for at least a few hours leaving you tin-man stiff and achy. Your body prefers to move, bend and flex which isn’t always easy in the sky or on the road and travel isn’t the only culprit. Sitting at a desk all day can lead to that same achiness, usually between the shoulder blades, the low back and the sides of the thighs. We all know that it’s important to get up and walk around while on a plane, stop at rest stops for a walk while driving and get away from your desk at regular intervals, but a few simple tools can make stretching breaks far more effective. For added relief at home, work, or on the road- grab a towel, a tennis ball and a rolling pin and make these simple stretches part of your everyday routine.
The Towel Stretch
Keep your shoulder blades down when performing this stretch and make sure to work both sides of your body. Walk your fingers toward each other to deepen the stretch and give relief to hunched shoulders and neck. This stretch can be done with a towel or sweater, or simply clasp both hands behind your back and lean forward lifting your hands away from your back. This is also a great stretch for kid-carrying moms.
The L Stretch
Using the car or a chair, flex forward at the hips without rounding your back to elongate the space between each vertebrae. Don’t be afraid to stick your butt out and walk your legs further and further away from the car or chair. This will open up the spine and spaces between the discs. For a more advanced version of the stretch, bend forward toward your toes with your arms reaching in front of you. This will create a more intense stretch on hamstrings and calves
Tennis Ball Pain Release
An easy-to-pack tennis ball and these simple stretches can provide immediate relief.
- Place the tennis ball between the seat and the small of your low back pressing back toward the seat of the car or plane. Roll it around the low back muscles in a circular pattern stopping at the sorest spots and adding a bit of extra pressure. This releases the tight parts of the muscle called triggers that cause pain and aching.
- Sit on the tennis ball using varying amounts of pressure to release the tight muscles of the glutes. Focus on the lateral portion of the glutes and roll in an up and down motion while balancing on your other cheek. If you feel a tingling sensation down your leg, you may be applying too much pressure directly over the sciatic nerve. This won’t cause any damage or injury but you will want to reduce the amount of pressure you are placing on the ball.
- Place the tennis ball between your palm and your thigh muscle and roll the ball in a circular motion around the muscle. Vary your pressure and when you find a sore spot hold the ball there and make smaller circles over this area. If it’s comfortable, you can lean forward placing more of your weight on the ball, which will increase the pressure. Too much pressure can cause bruising so be careful!
IT Band Roll
Grab a rolling pin from your kitchen and take it with you on a road trip. Unfortunately a rolling pin won’t make it through airport security! While sitting in a car or chair, shift your weight to one butt cheek so the IT band is easily accessible. Roll the rolling pin back and forth from just below the hip to just above the knee. Because of the large surface area, bruising is unlikely.
These simple tricks can make for a much happier travel experience! If you have trouble spots other than the ones above, we would be happy to have you come in and we can go over a detailed list of stretches specially designed for your body.