Remaining seated for hours on a long haul flight can cause your muscles to shorten and tighten, which is why many of us feel sore when we go to get up and off the plane. Our bodies can also suffer from poor circulation on flights because we are in a bent position which means our muscles (particularly our legs) don’t get the nutrients they need, causing even more pain.
Whether you’re travelling for work or play, we know the last thing you want is to start your trip off feeling stiff and achy. Luckily, an effective stretch routine can reverse a lot of the stiffness and pain that comes from sitting for too long – ensuring you are feeling fit and healthy quicker. Below are seven quick stretches targeting different areas of the body to try after your next flight.
1. Calf stretch
Leg muscles are one of the most common places people feel pain or soreness after a flight. To stretch your calves, place your palms on a wall with one leg bent in front of you at a 90-degree angle and your foot flat on the ground. Push your opposite leg straight backwards, stretching it away from the wall. Hold for 30 seconds then pull your leg back and repeat on the other side.
2. Quad stretch
To target your upper leg and quad, start this stretch by standing in an upright position. While standing balanced on your left leg, grab your right ankle and pull it towards your back trying to keep your knees together. Hold for 30 seconds or until you lose your balance, then repeat on the other side
3. Side lunge
Lunges are a great way to stretch your hip flexors, the muscles that connect your hips, legs and lower back and help keep you stable and aligned. For the side lunge, start off in a wide stance, then lunge your right leg to your right, flexing your left foot. Hold yourself in this position for approximately 20 seconds then come back up to the wide stance and repeat on the other side.
4. Half kneel twist
If you want to loosen your hips and open up your shoulders and back, the Half Kneel Twist is a great exercise to help. Start by kneeling on your left leg then bring your right leg up into a 90-degree angle with your right foot flat on the ground. Bring your hands together and twist your torso across the front leg. Bring your leg back and repeat on the other side.
5. Downward Dog
This classic yoga pose will help relieve your tight hamstrings, calves, lower back, and lats. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. First try to engage your core, then tuck your toes under and press into your palms to pick your knees up from the floor, pushing your hips towards the ceiling. Keep pressing firmly through your palms to push your chest back towards your thighs to create a pyramid shape with your body. Straighten out your legs and try to keep your heels as close to the ground as possible to feel a stretch through the calves and hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly lower back down to your knees.
6. Neck extension
This stretch can help relieve jaw tension and allows the side of the neck, front of the deltoid and part of the chest muscle to open and lengthen. Start by slowly tilting your left ear towards your left shoulder. Place your left hand with slight pressure on the top of your head. Slightly lift your chin and keep your jaw open. Hold a few deep breaths, release and repeat on the other side.
7. Cow face arms
While standing up straight, reach your left arm behind you and try to touch the space between your shoulder blades. Next, reach your right arm up over your head and bend your elbow so that your hand lands somewhere behind your neck. Without causing too much strain, try clasping your fingers together. Hold for around 20 seconds, then switch arms. This stretch helps to open up your shoulders, chest, and triceps.
Stretching after a flight can help release tight muscles and get you feeling back to yourself quicker. If you have any existing injuries or conditions we recommend speaking to your medical professional before trying the above stretch routine to ensure these are safe for you to do so.