Over the river and through the woods takes a long time in the car, and sitting, as we all know, can put pressure on the lower back, neck, and shoulders. It’s one reason many people avoid long road trips. However, throughout the holidays, visiting family from afar can’t be avoided. So, remember to stretch regularly throughout your journey to help your body feel less stiff and tight, to get your blood circulating, and to help you stay alert if you're driving. Plus, according to Healthline,“stretching tends to feel good because it activates your parasympathetic nervous system and increases blood flow to your muscles. It's thought that stretching may also release endorphins that help to reduce pain and enhance your mood.”
If you’re traveling for the holidays, here’s your best stretch guide for driving, flying or just to refresh your mind and body before, during and after spending time with your family.
If you’re driving more than an hour.
Before you get into the car, try a few simple stretches. If you have a tool to stretch with, it’s sometimes easier to remember to do it, and it makes it more beneficial. The Flexistretcher is a simple tool that is portable and easy to use. Opening your chest muscles and neck is a great starting point before your drive.
Simple neck rotations right and left, 4-5x on each side then slowly roll your chin side to side. Next, take your arms wide to the side in a “T” position and squeeze your shoulder blades together. If you have a Flexistretcher, hold the nylon straps closest to the elastic center and pull it wide to activate the shoulders and upper back muscles. Next, lift it overhead and pull it down with elbows bent behind your back squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds and repeat 2-3x.
Also keep in mind that you should stop every 1-2 hours to get out of the car for a stretch or walking break. This is an ideal time to repeat those upper body stretches and add in a few lower body stretches.
Using the Flexistretcher, place your foot in the elastic center and gently lift your leg forward, leaning onto the car or working on your balance. Point and flex your foot into the elastic center and stretch the hamstrings. This helps relieve the pressure on your lower back from sitting while driving. Another great total body stretch is to grab the nylon straps near the elastic center for a side bend stretch overhead. Simply bend your rib cage down to the hips while reaching the arms overhead and pulling wide on the Flexistretcher.
If you’re traveling by plane for more than an hour.
Even when you're traveling by plane, it's a good idea to stretch before and after your flight. Having your portable, easy-to-use, Flexistretcher on hand is a great idea. Start by holding the Flexistretcher by the nylon straps next to the elastic center and bring the strap up to shoulder height. Rotate the body in a simple rotation from right to left to improve circulation and spine rotation. Another good stretch is to take those arms overhead holding again on the nylon straps near the elastic center while pulling the strap wide, and bending down side to side. These are great movements to improve circulation and are focused around core muscles that can help to prevent both low back and neck stiffness from flying.
If your flight is longer than two hours, you should definitely be stretching on the plane and depending on the length of the flight, right after you leave the plane. While there isn’t much room on a plane to pull out your Flexistretcher overhead, a simple calf foot pump can help stimulate lower body circulation to help avoid deep vein thrombosis. Simply slide your foot onto the elastic center and while holding the nylon straps, pump the foot by pointing and flexing it against the resistance. Pump the foot for 15-20 reps and perform on the other side as well. Once you leave the plane, upper body stretches above your head could be a great option.
You won’t believe how good you can feel with just a little bit of stretching!