Avoiding the Pains of Travel
Are you traveling this holiday season? Airport travel can be extremely stressful psychologically and physically on the body. Here are some tips to navigate the strains of being stuck in an airport while waiting for a delayed flight:
Walk. If you have a long-layover, try walking more than sitting. Using fit bits or my personal favorite, “Map My Run” application, which measures not only running, but other activities such as walking and cycling is extremely effective at tracking distance and calories burnt. Knowing how far you’ve walked and how many calories you’ve burned are good motivators.
Lymphatic drainage. Flying dehydrates you. Start drinking water 3 days prior to flying, while at the airport and during your flight to stay hydrated. If you have issues with swelling, make sure to wear your compression garments, minimize salt and alcohol intake. A great way to facilitate lymphatic flow is to stand and bounce quickly on the balls of your feet like an infant does when they’re learning to walk.
Stretches. Stretches are one of the most important actions you can take while waiting in an airport. Your muscles can become extremely tight leading to stiffness and discomfort. Some of the muscles which tighten easily and can be stretched in an airport include: hamstrings, quadriceps, calf, hip flexors, piriformis, back, pectorals, upper trapezius and neck muscles. Aside from the hip flexors and quadriceps, which would require standing, all of these can be performed while sitting or standing. Dynamic stretching such as spinal twist and cat & camel to loosen your back muscles are also helpful.
Strengthening. Some simple strengthening exercises to perform while in the airport are gluteal sets and scapular squeezes. These help reinforce use of the muscles that help keep ideal posture.
Body mechanics. If you’re toting a backpack, use waist and chest straps to decrease strain on your shoulders especially the upper trapezius muscles that often get “knots”. Unload the strain, by taking off the backpack if possible. Use a rolling suitcase rather than a duffel bag and check your luggage if possible. If you are using your phone at a charging phone station, try standing at the station. If you’re using your laptop, don’t place it on your lap but try to stand at one of those stations! Minimize sitting in an airport lounge chair, which are often not ergonomically supportive, causing people to slouch rather than maintain an upright posture.
Managing stress: Try to stay calm, not frustrated by things beyond your control. Remember to take deep breaths! Deep breaths help reduce stress you may be holding in your shoulders. Brief moments to meditate can also be helpful.
This holiday season, you can navigate the stresses of flight travel by doing even one of the above suggestions. The bottom line is to keep moving! Enjoy your holiday and may you be safe and pain-free! If you would like further advice on how to keep your body in good condition this holiday, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d be happy to help!