Sitting for long stretches of time can negatively impact your spine, muscles and joints, and it can even take a toll on the functioning of your internal organs. Symptoms you might experience include pain or tightness in your lower back, hips, legs, neck and/or shoulders. To make matters worse, you may even experience abnormal bowel function or fatigue. Doing these simple stretches either before or after takeoff, or even while en route, can help to offset these aches and pains. Stretching decompresses the spine, elongates your muscles and stimulates blood flow to promote better circulation and increase energy throughout your body. Even if you’re not at the airport or a pit stop, make sure that stretching is a part of your daily routine. It’s as necessary as brushing your teeth! Developing the habit now will decrease stiffness over time, increase mobility and prevent age-related shrinking. Stretching costs nothing but a little time. You’re worth it!
Business Travel Moves to Greater Flexibility as a New Age Emerges Photo Gallery
STANDING CHEST STRETCH PURPOSE
loosens the shoulder girdle and creates space across the upper chest, stretching the pectoral muscles and front of the shoulders SETUP Stand tall with your feet parallel and hip- width apart (or wider), and the palm of one hand, forearm and inside of your elbow against the edge of a wall, doorframe or pole. Place your opposite hand on the small of your back, or rest your arm by your side.
1 . Begin shuffling your feet a few baby steps forward to increase the stretch. Hold for 2–3 breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat on your other side. TIPS Picture holding a grapefruit under your chin to help stabilize your neck and keep your head aligned with your spine. Imagine that you’re lifting the sides of your waist up away from your hips—try to avoid any twisting in your spine as you shuffle.
STANDING SIDE STRETCH WITH HEAD CRADLE PURPOSE
Decompresses the spine while increasing elasticity of its muscles to alleviate tightness in the neck, lower back, shoulders and hips SETUP Stand against a wall. Inhale, interlacing your fingers behind your head with your elbows bent. Exhale fully, allowing your shoulders to gently glide down toward the floor.
1 . Press your elbows into the wall, and then inhale as you side-bend from your waist, sliding against the wall to one side.
2 . Exhale to return to center. Do 6 reps, alternating sides. TIP As you side-bend, keep your head gently pressing back, with your chin slightly dropped; allow your head to follow your spine as you move. MODIFICATION If your shoulders feel tight, let your elbows come forward from the wall, or stretch your interlaced fingers overhead.
STANDING INNER-THIGH STRETCH WITH A SIDE-BEND PURPOSE
Stretches the lumbar (lower back) and thoracic (middle back) muscles responsible for balance and coordination; loosens the muscles surrounding the hips, promoting better mobility and posture S E T U P Same as Standing Hamstring Stretch, but turn your body so it’s sideways to the platform and rest your arms by your sides.
1 . Lift your outer arm by your ear, and then lean toward your lifted leg; hold for 2–3 breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat on your other side. TIPS Keep your legs straight but your knees soft. If you don’t feel much of a stretch, lift your leg to a higher platform, or try leaning back a little or tilting your pelvis forward or backward.
STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH PURPOSE
Increases flexibility in the hamstrings to relieve and prevent tension in the legs and lower back; stimulates blood flow from the lower half of the body to the heart SETUP Prop the ball or heel of one foot onto a sturdy platform (such as a bench, step or low sidewalk) that’s no higher than your hips with your leg fully extended. Keep your standing leg in parallel, and square off your hips and shoulders. Rest your hands on your lower back, or place them on your hips.
1 . Slowly hinge forward from your hips; hold the stretch for 2–3 breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Repeat on your other side.
MODIFICATIONS If your hamstrings are tight and you feel your back or hips twisting as you move, slightly bend your elevated knee and avoid leaning forward. If you find it difficult to have your standing leg in parallel, allow your foot to turn slightly out from your hip. Try adding a gentle point and flex of your foot for an additional stretch in your calf.