Avoid Travel Stiffness with Easy Stretches and Movements

These tips and easy stretches will get your blood circulating and keep your muscles from stiffening up on long rides, so you can arrive at your destination ready to move.

First Things First: Stay Hydrated

While you may tend to try avoiding trips to the restroom while traveling, it is actually very important to stay hydrated and avoid potentially harmful fluid retention during long periods of inactivity. Drinking water before a trip oxygenates your muscles and helps keep all your systems working properly.

Bottled Water: A Traveler's Friend

Next: Walk Whenever You Can

If you’re able, be sure to take breaks from the seated position. Whether you need the restroom or not, use every opportunity to get up and move.


Try These Movements and Stretches

Upper body circles to stretch during a long trip by car or plane.
Start with your hands on your knees and your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your head in a fixed position, circle your ribcage slowly as if you’re using your upper body to clean out a giant jar of peanut butter. Circle to the left 5 times, and then to the right 5 times.
Crunch twist exercise for car or airplane seat.
Start by pulling your abdominal muscles in toward your spine. Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. With your hands behind your head, slowly bring one elbow together with the opposite knee, lifting your foot off the floor. Exhale as you twist down. Inhale and sit tall. Switch to the other elbow/knee. Complete 8-10 twists on each side.
Seated calf raise exercise for travelers.
Start with your feet flat on the floor, then raise your heels up until your toes are pointed. Repeat 8-10 times, with both feet together or alternating left/right.
Hip adduction knee squeeze exercise.
Place your fist between your knees, gently engage your pelvic floor muscles (like stopping the flow of urine) and then squeeze your legs together, pressing against your fist. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release completely. Repeat 8-10 times.
Hip abduction knee push-out exercise.
Tuck in your abdominal muscles, lean forward to wrap your arms under your legs, and clasp your hands together. Hold this pose as you push your knees outward, pressing into your arms. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release completely. Repeat 8-10 times.
Seated Neck Stretch
Shrug and release your shoulders. With your chest up and shoulders level, hang your head to one side so your ear is toward your shoulder. Relax there for 2-3 breaths. Gently straighten up, slowly shrug and release both shoulders, and then switch sides. Alternate and repeat 4-6 times.
Ankle Circle Travel Stretch
Roll your shoulders back and pull one knee up toward your chest and hold. Rotate your foot, drawing 5-6 circles with your toes in each direction (start small, and go wider, staying fluid with the movement). Gently switch position and repeat with the other ankle.
Ankle Pump Travel Stretch
After circling your foot in both directions, and with your leg extended, point and flex your foot as though you’re pumping a pedal. Repeat 8-10 times with each leg.
Arm Shakeout for Travelers
Relax your arms, breathe deeply and, starting on one side, gently shake out all the joints of the hand for 4-6 seconds. Work your way to gently shaking out your (relaxed) elbow, using your shoulder to mobilize that joint for 4-6 seconds. If that’s working well, try using the movement of your whole rib cage to shake out your (relaxed) shoulder joint.
Glute stretch for airplane or car seat.
Roll your shoulders back, sit up straight, and draw one knee toward your chest. With your opposite hand positioned on the outside of your knee, pull your knee toward your opposite shoulder. You should feel a stretch in your gluteus muscle.


Stretch for Piriformis Muscle
Cross one leg over the other so that the outside of your foot is resting on your other knee. Push down on the knee of the leg that is crossed over until you feel a good stretch in your hips and glutes. Hold for 8-10 seconds, leaning forward very gradually from the waist, and then switch sides.


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