Health Hints | Staying Limber During Traveling

You can quickly become stiff and sore after sitting still in a car or airplane for hours. Lower leg swelling creates the risk of serious circulation issues, like a clot in deep-vein thrombosis. The good news is that it’s possible to stretch while enduring your confinement.

Woman on yoga mat

Try these simple yoga practices to ease discomfort and experience well-being while traveling. If possible, try to get out of the car or your seat and walk at least every two hours. The following tips can be used while standing or seated:

  1. Sit tall. Adjust your seat to sit more upright, like a bus driver. Use your fists to push yourself up out of the seat, hovering for a moment. Sit up straight to stretch and lengthen your spine. Try elevating your hips with a blanket or clothing item and scoot your tailbone back so that you can wag your tail.
  2. Breathe. Take a breath deep into your belly and round in your rib cage. This creates a stretch on the inside. Energy and oxygen will feed your brain and all of your tissues. Breathe long and slow through your nose to fill your lungs then slowly exhale, completely emptying all of the used air.
  3. Move. Don’t just sit there! Move slowly with long, sustained inhales and exhales. Repeat each stretch three to four times. Relax your face and jaw, and smile gently.
    • Roll shoulders forward in big circles. Repeat, rolling backward.
    • Tip right ear to right shoulder, keeping the left shoulder down. Repeat on other side.
    • Turn gaze over right shoulder. Repeat on left.
    • Tip chin to chest. Turn head and gaze at right armpit; then left.
    • Clasp hands behind head and draw elbows together to lengthen neck.
    • Interlace fingers and turn palms up. Reach hands up, lean right and return to center then repeat on left.
    • Grab your right armrest with both hands. Gently pull to twist your torso to the right, stretching and relaxing spine. Repeat on Left.
    • Place both feet flat on the floor then strongly flex ankles and stretch toes upward. Return feet down flat. Roll through the feet, lifting the heels, then return feet flat.
    • Lift each foot and slowly rotate the ankle several times. Reverse circle and repeat.
    • Cross left ankle over right knee and lean forward with straight back. Reverse legs and repeat.
  1. Restore your body after traveling. Lie on your back and place your legs on a chair at a right angle. Place folded towel under neck if chin juts upward.
    1. Remain with legs on chair 3 to 10 minutes.
    2. Bend knees toward chest and rock gently side to side.
    3. With knees bent to chest, roll legs to one side for a bent-knee twist. Relax for 1 minute. Draw knees up and repeat twist to the other side.

Bring soles of feet together and relax to open hips and groin.

Darleen Benson is a self-described 74-year old time share veteran who takes several long road trips each year. She began a yoga practice almost 40 years ago and is now a 250 hour certified yoga instructor, and has completed additional training in therapeutic yoga for seniors through the Yoga 4 Seniors Teacher Training offered through Duke University’s School of Integrative Medicine. She has also completed a course on yoga for osteoporosis and osteopenia. She teaches regularly in Asheville, NC, and finds joy in teaching students whose bodies are changing and becoming unable to perform like they did in their younger years.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .

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