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Travel Tips: Top 5 Airplane Stretches to Prevent an Achy Body

Spring Break is upon us and many will be traveling by plane, train, or car to get to their destination. The last thing we want is an achy body upon landing at our destination. It is common to experience tightness and tension in our neck, low back, and hips after sitting in the same position for hours. Here are 5 great stretches you can perform in-flight on your next trip airplane to prevent an achy body before take off. 

1. Seated Cat-Cow

The seated cat-cow is a great stretch and alternative to a traditional cat-cow usually performed on your hands and knees. This stretch will improve spinal mobility and reduce tightness in the low back. With your hips scooted away from the back of your seat (as much as your legroom allows), place your hands on your knees and sit up tall. Inhale as you extend your back and look up towards the ceiling of the plane, allow your pelvis to rock forward and feel an arch in your spine. As you exhale, round your spine and look down towards your feet, tucking your tailbone under you. Repeat the motion 5–8x, focus on where your sticky spots are in your spine, and breathe into those positions. 

2. Spinal Twist

Another great stretch to reduce low back tightness and improve spinal mobility. Maintain an upright posture as you place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand on the armrest next to you. Twist your spine to the right and look towards the back of the plane, breathe into this position and hold for 5 breaths, repeat each side 2–3 times. 

3. Figure Four Stretch

The figure four stretch is a helpful stretch for hip tightness after sitting in a flexed position for hours. Bend your right knee and bring your ankle to your left knee as you bend forward to feel a stretch in your hips and back. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side 2–3 times. Take advantage of more room to perform this stretch when your neighbor is going to the bathroom. 

4. Hamstring stretch

The hamstring stretch will help with hip and back and knee tightness. Place one leg to straighten out under the seat in front of you. As you place your hands on your thigh, allow your pelvis to rock forward and walk your hands down your leg until you feel a stretch on the backside of your leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

5. Neck stretch

A neck stretch is a simple way to improve the kinks in the neck after falling asleep with your head falling to one side. Place one hand under your bottom and the other hand on your head, while keeping your nose straight ahead, and bend your ear to your shoulder. Take 5 breaths and allow your head to soften to the side while feeling a stretch on the opposite neck. If this stretch is too intense, remove the hand from under your bottom. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3x on each side. 


It is important that all of the above stretches are pain-free! If you find that you are consistently having pain consider seeking professional help from a physical therapist or doctor to figure out the cause of your pain. Physical therapy is a great resource for managing multiple conditions throughout the body and can help improve overall posture and body awareness. For more information on how Action Potential can help you, request an appointment today

Photo by pucacacua: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-sitting-in-the-airplaine-9454642/